School Board to Take $1.5M In Additional Levy Revenue

WHEELING – The Ohio County Board of Education will take in an additional $1.5 million in revenue after voting Tuesday to maintain the district’s operating levy rate of 95.5 percent for the 2013-2014 school year.

After awaiting approval from the West Virginia auditor’s office, the board reconvened the recessed March 25 levy meeting to officially adopt the levy rate by a 5-0 vote, with board president James Jorden voting by phone.

In addition, the board unanimously approved Ohio County Assessor Kathie Hoffman’s total assessed property value of Ohio County at $1.86 billion for the 2013-14 fiscal year, an increase of last year’s value by about $100 million.

Hoffman said an increase in property sales have contributed to the increased value, citing construction at The Highlands and houses “flying off the market.” She said new hotels built at The Highlands and activities at Alliance Coal’s Tunnel Ridge Mine have especially contributed to the larger value.

“We’ve had a lot of home sales and commercial sales,” Hoffman said. “Gas and oil is helping. We believe a lot of people are investing in property to rent out to oil workers. We’ll look for another increase for the 2013 tax year. since wells are now active.”

These high values will increase the school district’s revenue from about $19.9 million to $21.4 million in fiscal 2013-14.

“With this information, we are able to move forward to create our budget,” schools Superintendent Dianna Vargo said. “The majority of the funds are for our salaries, and it is our hope and goal to maintain the same quality of programs that we have been able to offer our students.”

According to Vargo, the 2013-2014 budget will available for public comment for 10 days at the central office at 2203 National Road before it comes to a vote May 13.

The board also voted to put out a bid for a certified public accounting firm to perform an audit of the board’s 2013-2014 school budget, following its anticipated approval next month. The board chose this option as opposed to a staff member from the state auditor’s office performing the audit.

“It has been our practice- Our finance department wanted to keep the consistency of the auditing process,” Vargo said.

In other business, board members Christine Carder, Sarah Koegler, Shane Mallett, Gary Kestner and James Jorden, as well as Assistant Superintendent Bernard Dolan, human resources director John Jorden and Vargo went into a closed-door meeting for approximately 15 minutes to discuss a personnel matter. According to Carder, no decisions were made.