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Some voters pondering multiple excess levies

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Although county governments often put excess tax levies onto a general election ballot to save the cost of having a special election, voters in two West Virginia counties may be surprised at the number of levies they have to consider Tuesday.

Boone County voters will decide on four separate levies -- whether to continue extra tax funding for their fire departments, libraries, ambulance service and senior nutrition program.

Roane County voters will also consider four issues: an emergency services levy, a senior nutrition levy and two new levies to help fund the Roane County Solid Waste Authority and create an after-school program for kids.

All of the levies in both counties require a 60 percent majority to pass.

Boone County's excess levies have been in place at least the last 10 years, said Boone County Administrator Jim Gore.

"The levies are real important to the county, and the residents are aware of that," Gore said. He said the senior nutrition levy funded about 90,000 meals to senior citizens last year, and the fire, ambulance and library levies help provide important services to county residents.

In Roane County, the ambulance, fire and library levies are tied together under the emergency services levy, according to Roane County Clerk Charlie White. He said the levy, in place since 1987, provides funding for the county's six volunteer fire departments, and helps pay for fire trucks and ambulances. The levy also supports three county library branches.

As in Boone County, Roane County's senior nutrition levy provides meals for senior citizens. The levy has been in place since 2004.

White said the new solid waste levy is designed to raise about $30,000 a year to keep Roane County's recycling center in operation after the facility lost federal funding. The PATCH 21 levy provides funding to support preschool and after-school programs for Roane County schoolchildren that target obesity and stress healthy living.

If Roane County voters approve all four levies, the owner of an average home and land assessed at $60,000 and a vehicle or vehicles appraised at $15,000 will pay about $120 a year, according to Roane County Assessor Emily Westfall.

White stressed that two of the Roane County levies are continuations of measures that have been in place for years.

"I really don't think it will cost the average taxpayer a lot of money," White said. He said those supporting the levies are passionate about promoting them.

White doesn't know if having so many levies on the ballot at the same time hurts the chances for any of them passing.

But Gore said it might actually help in Boone County.

"The seniors will go out and vote for theirs and the firefighters will go out and vote for theirs," he said. "They kind of vote for each other's."

Gore said all the organizations funded by Boone County's levies have good reputations, and said the levies usually pass by comfortable margins. He said the levies passed the last time with about 80 percent of the vote.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.

 


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