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Levy: Help Kanawha County

Less than a month from now, conscientious voters will have a chance to improve life in the Charleston region by expanding Kanawha County's excess levy to full strength.

If this proposal passes on Nov. 9, distressed public schools and the public library system will gain a much-needed $24.4 million. We're hoping for success, because Kanawha needs first-class schools and libraries.

Cantankerous school board member Pete Thaw, who never stops griping, is campaigning against the levy. But the board's other four members wisely support it. We hope most voters decide to help their community.

Under state law, progressive-minded counties can pass 100 percent excess property tax levies to improve public schools. A year ago, Kanawha approved another five-year extension of a longstanding excess levy that provides only 65 percent additional money.

Since then, two setbacks occurred: The state Supreme Court stripped the Kanawha library system of $3 million yearly funding, and public schools encountered deficits. To repair these problems, four members of the school board called a special election to raise the levy to 100 percent.

The expansion would replace the $3 million lost by libraries and generate $21 million more for schools. A middle-class family with a $100,000 home would incur about $125 more annual property tax.

Willingness to pay a bit more taxes to improve life for everyone is a mark of good citizenship. Kanawha voters have displayed this selflessness time after time by approving various extra levies.

If the Nov. 9 vote should fail, the Kanawha school system will be forced to slap many annoying student fees on families, and the network of public libraries will be in dire straits, probably facing curtailments.

Since 2013 isn't a political election year, the isolated special balloting will draw only voters who feel strongly about this limited local issue. We hope supporters of good schools and libraries carry the day.


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