The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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August 20, 2013

Forums slated to provide school levy information

Precinct changes noted

The Greenbrier County Board of Education has scheduled two forums next week to provide information about the upcoming levy election.

Forums will be held Monday at the Rainelle Fire Hall and Tuesday at the Roland P. Sharp Alumni Center on the campus of the West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine in Lewisburg. Both forums will begin at 6 p.m.

At issue in the Oct. 5 special election is the proposed continuation of the 50 percent school excess levy that has been in place in Greenbrier County since 1974. This special levy must be approved by voters every five years in order to continue.

The levy is assessed against owners of real estate. According to the example given in an informational brochure produced by the Board of Education, the excess levy costs the typical owner of a home valued at $100,000 a tax of $138 annually. For a senior citizen with a homestead exemption on a home of that same value, the levy costs $92 a year.

“For almost 40 years, the school levy has provided our school system the opportunity to provide services beyond the basics and has enabled us to educate and enhance the lives of thousands of students who have passed through our hallways,” said Greenbrier County Schools Superintendent Sallie E. Dalton.

The levy funds such items as security services, instructional materials, art and music programs, lab supplies, employment of personnel outside the school aid formula, building repairs, maintenance and utilities and extracurricular programs.

The amount raised by the excess levy annually is approximately $5.7 million, representing approximately 13 percent of the school system’s general current expense budget.

The superintendent emphasized no increase in the levy is being sought with this special election. She also stressed that the levy money cannot be used for new school construction.

“It’s important for us to communicate to voters that this is not a school bond proposal,” Dalton said. “School bonds provide funding for new school construction and major facility renovations and cannot be used for day-to-day operations.

“This is a request for the continuation of the special levy that provides funding for a number of resources and programs that are critical to the daily operation of our school system.”

Greenbrier County currently ranks 30th among West Virginia’s 55 counties in local taxpayer contribution to education. The county is one of 44 with voter-approved excess levies in place; of those levies, 36 are at or above the Greenbrier County rate.

The October levy proposal requests authorization to continue the county’s excess levies from July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2019.

Additional information is available at www.GreenbrierCountySchools.org under the “News and Information” tab.

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