School levy is drastic tax increase
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I read with a mixture of humor and horror the recent editorial titled "Levy: Help Kanawha County." While my husband would not dignify this editorial with a response, as a taxpayer myself, I feel compelled to respond.
It is my opinion one would be hard-pressed indeed to find any value to the citizens of Kanawha County in terms of "improving life in the Charleston region" as it relates to this new, additional and uncapped school excess levy. Had your editorial writer done his/her homework, the words "willingness to pay a bit more taxes" would never have shown up in this editorial.
Your levy editorial neglected to tell the public that this uncapped $24 million new school excess levy will cost the taxpayers a total of $130,946,000 over the life of the levy, and that it would be running simultaneously with the capped $44 million school excess levy the voters so graciously granted only one year ago (which does not even come into play until July 2014). This will make Kanawha County the only county in West Virginia with two school excess levies running at the same time.
Taxpayers can know exactly how much this new, uncapped, additional levy will cost them by looking at their tax statement (sent by the Kanawha County Sheriff in August). Draw a line from "school excess levy" to the amount then multiply that amount by 50 percent. This hardly asks the Kanawha County taxpayers for "a bit more" money. Raising the rate of school taxation from 65 percent to 100 percent is a 35 percent increase -- a massive tax increase! Of the 55 counties in West Virginia, 11 counties have no school excess levies and only 21 counties tax at a rate of 100 percent.
If throwing money at the education industry improved children's education, we in Kanawha County would have the best-educated children in West Virginia (and we would lead most states in the USA). The Kanawha County School Board majority is like all of us in real life -- when we have a lot of money, we spend a lot more money. Where we differ is in the lean years; the rest of us cut back and spend less.
Recently the school administration predicted a deficit for 2014, and this apparently sent the Board majority into a tailspin that resulted in a knee-jerk reaction to orchestrate this Nov. 9 special election -- at a cost to Kanawha County taxpayers of $400,000.
The 2014 predicted deficit is now forecast to be far less than the original prediction; and no mention is made of the carryover (i.e., surplus) that Kanawha County Schools has each and every year. Taxpayers faced with a serious voting decision regarding whether to take on an enormous increase in their tax burden for this new school excess levy have every right to know all the facts.
The mark of good stewardship in a board member responsible for public moneys is a willingness to stand up -- and speak up, when the taxpayers are being abused. One school board member is willing to do this in Kanawha County.
The single point in your editorial I do agree with is: It is extremely important for the voters to go to the polls on or before Nov. 9 to vote. My hope is Kanawha County taxpayers are willing (and courageous enough) to protect themselves and vote "no/against" this obscene increase in their school excess levy taxes.
Patricia B. Thaw