Board Lowers Levy Rate to 94 Percent

The Marshall County Board of Education will take in an additional $300,000 next year after unanimously voting to lower the district’s excess levy rate from 98 to 94 percent.

The board decided to submit the lower levy rate to the state for approval at its Tuesday board meeting after learning the county’s property values increased by $170 million this year.

At a 94-percent rate, the board would collect $22,016,588 from the excess levy in the next fiscal year.

The school district’s operating budget for fiscal year 2014 is $55.8 million, which includes about $21.7 million from county taxpayers through the excess levy.

With an additional $300,000, next year’s budget will increase to $56.1 million.

One resident expressed concern that the district was still collecting well above the board’s original request of $16 million each year for five years. Superintendent Michael Hince later said with the ongoing renovations of John Marshall High School and an upcoming roof replacement for Glen Dale Elementary School, the board was “comfortable” setting the levy rate at 94 percent to cover its expenses.

“When you introduce a levy, you project what you think you will need at the time,” Hince said. “Prices are going up … you do your best to make a judgment. I think we’ve done a good job on not overspending.”

If the board finds there is an excess of money left next year, Hince said, it will be used to pay off a bond debt from a levy passed by Marshall County voters in 2006 for the construction of the new Cameron High School. If the bond is paid off early to the West Virginia School Building Authority, county residents will pay less in interest, Hince said.

The board also cited possible state budget cuts as another concern for the next fiscal year.

Business Manager Nan Hartley said the county already suffered a $75,000 cut from the state this year in student enrichment, forcing the district to use its general funds to keep programs such as Saturday school and tutoring. She said the county has not yet received information from the state on additional cuts for the next school year, but said the county rarely knows ahead of time when cuts will be made.

The levy rate will be set officially by the board April 15, pending approval from the West Virginia State Tax Commissioner and the West Virginia State Board of Education.