St. Clairsville School Levy Opponents Make Their Stand

Photo by Miranda Sebroski St. Clairsville resident Bill Brooks speaks Thursday outside of the Belmont County Courthouse against a proposed 8.56-mill school levy.

ST. CLAIRSVILLE — Some who live in the St. Clairsville-Richland City School district made a stand Thursday to oppose an 8.56-mill school levy that will be on the November ballot.

Bill Brooks was among more than 20 other residents assembled outside of the Belmont County Courthouse who had come to speak about why they think the levy will not be a good choice for city residents. Brooks has lived in St. Clairsville since 1967 and said he has attended multiple council meetings to show his opposition for the proposed levy.

“These people for the levy have it in their head that we want a new college-style campus,” Brooks said. “They want to be better than (Ohio University), who is a college. They want to be better than Wheeling Park (High School). They are going to make people on fixed income pay for this. They are going to make our young people who go to work every day pay for it. You can work a 40-hour job at minimum wage and you are still going to have to pay those taxes.”

Betty Perkins voiced her views on the levy. She said she wants to support children and their education, but refuses to support the levy.

“All I can think is that they are out of their minds being so greedy, selfish and thoughtless toward a community who loves their kids,” Perkins said. “Don’t they care about senior citizens who are struggling to make ends meet? There is enough for people to worry about when they have significant others with health issues that have to pay out of their pockets for those bills.

“How about the families who have children and have to work two or three jobs just to put food on their table? They can not afford it,” she added. “Did they think about the renters who are struggling to pay their rent and electricity? If that levy passes, their rent will skyrocket and it won’t be the homeowner that will pay the difference. Half of our taxes go to the school now.”

Drew Barbour said he had graduated from St. Clairsville High School many years ago and thinks the idea of the levy is bad for taxpayers. He said it also will hurt business that may want to come into the city.

“We are doing these people a favor if this goes down,” Barbour said. “These young people don’t realize it. Look at how many stores are open. Do they think that this is going to bring in business? If I wanted to start a business in St. Clairsville, I am going to pay more in taxes and make less money.”

Supporters of the levy have said the school buildings are old and outdated, and students need modern facilities to help them prepare for the workforce of the future.

The proposed school construction levy would raise $79.9 million for a a new two-story elementary school, a new high school, renovations to the connector building and a new fine arts multi-purpose theater for the district. There also are plans for a field house that would include locker rooms, spectator seating, replacement of the field turf at Red Devil Stadium and resurfacing of the track there.

The levy would cost property owners $24.97 per month for those who have a home with a market value of $100,000.

There also is a separate levy for an eight-lane pool for students, swim teams and the public. The pool levy is for 1.41 mills, which will cost property owner $4.11 a month on a $100,000 house. The pool levy is contingent upon the school construction levy passing.

A bond issue also will collect taxes from oil and gas production, industry and commercial properties and public utility personal property. Current tax collections would take half from residents and half from businesses.