On Nov. 9, Kanawha voters can show conscientious citizenship by expanding the county's excess levy to aid libraries and distressed schools. Paying a bit more in property taxes will be a selfless way to improve life in the state capital region.
State law allows forward-thinking counties to add 100 percent excess property tax levies to provide additional funding to upgrade public schools. Last year, Kanawha voters approved a five-year extension of a long-running levy -- but the rate was capped at 65 percent.
Since then, two quandaries arose: The state Supreme Court ruled that Kanawha schools can terminate $3 million yearly support for public libraries, and new projections found the school system headed dangerously into debt.
To solve both problems, the school board voted to call a special election to boost the excess levy from 65 percent to 100 percent -- which would restore the $3 million lost by libraries and generate $21 million more for schools.
Bravo. We hope public-spirited voters gladly embrace this boon, even though it would cost an average middle-class family about $125 more property tax per year. It's responsible citizenship. Paying taxes is necessary to finance the manifold benefits of government. Nothing is more important than the future of children.
If the Nov. 9 ballot initiative is rejected, school board member Robin Rector says the board will be forced to make painful choices -- such as charging families fees for Advanced Placement courses and extracurricular activities. Nobody wants such burdens to be imposed.
Library fans are delighted with this proposed solution to the library dilemma. The county's library board president, Mike Albert, told board members: "We're grateful for the opportunity .... We plan to work very hard on this with you."Go for it. We hope enough school supporters and library buffs jump on the bandwagon to expand Kanawha's excess levy to full strength.