"Why would the Daily Mail support this tax increase?" the caller asked.
He had called me, the relatively new editorial page editor, following a lengthy editorial supporting the Kanawha County school and library excess levy, on the ballot Nov. 9.
True, the levy proposal, if affirmed by voters, will be a tax increase. A family with a home appraised at $100,000 and a $15,000 car would see an increase of about $125 a year.
As Daily Mail readers know, this newspaper's editorial stance is generally not one to support new or higher taxes. And rest assured, that stance is not going to change. The Daily Mail will continue to push for lower taxes overall and more government efficiency.
Support by the Daily Mail editorial board for this tax increase was not one taken lightly.
I told the caller we tried to explain our reasoning in the editorial, such as:
• capping the previous levy rate prevented growth in revenues during the five-year period,
• the school system experienced several unexpected hits to its budget after the previous levy was put to voters, and
• the library system will lose 40 percent of its funding without this levy.
It's easy to find reasons to oppose something proposed by the Board of Education. We've all seen public problems and embarrassing micromanagement by board members.
I too have some reservations about what seemed to be a lack of public input in the new proposal and coming back to voters just a little more than one year after a previous vote.
But voting against the levy won't change things for the better and, I'm afraid, will negatively affect students, teachers and libraries.
While I don't like to pay taxes any more than the next guy, I have been inside Kanawha County schools enough to know that teachers, school administrators and students need more support from the public, not less.
As part of a previous employer's school partnership, I spent several years as a school volunteer on Charleston's West Side.