Wood County WV Commission President Blair Couch is running again for re-election. Couch, a Republican will face Democrat candidate Harry Deitzler, a prominent attorney with the law firm of Hill-Peterson-Carper, Bee and Deitzler.He is a former Wood County prosecutor and has worked with the county commission in the past.
Can he effectively oversee county business when it appears he can’t take care of his own personal financial affairs?We obtained a December 16, 2011 letter from Parkersburg Attorney Andrew Woofter III who acts as special counsel to both the Wood County Sheriff and the County Commission in delinquent tax matters.In this letter, Woofter refers to Blair Couch’s earlier request to be allowed to make monthly payments of $200 to the tax department until the delinquent $16,582.43 is paid off.Woofter clearly states in this letter to Couch that, “I have advised you that, by State law, the Sheriff cannot accept partial payments of any tax bill.” But, Woofter went on to write that he had allegedly obtained permission from the Sheriff’s Tax Office that would allow him (Woofter) to accept the $200 a month payment and hold it in "my trust account until there are sufficient funds to pay each tax ticket." At that rate, with interest each month of $108.39, it would take approximately 12 years to pay off the delinquent taxes because only $91.61 of the $200 a month should go towards the principal debt.We attempted to contact Commissioner Couch by telephone and by e-mail for his response to our questions before publishing this story. Privileges That Violate State Tax Law According to county tax records and other documents, Couch’s former business, A. Couch Inc owes $16,582.43 in back taxes for 20 that are tied directly to his ownership in a Hertz car rental business located at 1700 St Mary’s Ave.At that time, he was in business with his mother, Jane Couch who was listed as Vice President.
(records linked below) The Secretary of States office also lists that same location for Couch’s current business “D. Fleet Sales Inc.” Couch is the corporation President.
This business is listed as a Hertz Car and Penske Truck Rental business.
Our 3-week investigation uncovered records that show he owes thousands of dollars in unpaid back taxes on a former Wood County business.
Since becoming commissioner he defaulted on one $65,000 loan with United Bank and documents we obtained show Couch used his position as Wood County Commission President to circumvent state tax laws for his own personal gain.
And, he unsuccessfully tried to enlist the Sheriff’s Office to help him.
Then there is the question as to why Commissioner Couch has been allowed to only pay 24% assessed property taxes when every other state resident pays 60%?