Give Taxpayers Substantial Break

Marshall County school officials are right to be talking about giving property owners a tax break. One is long overdue.

During a meeting Tuesday, Board of Education members discussed reducing the property tax levy rate, now at 98 percent, to 94 percent for the 2014-15 tax year. A decision may be made in time for the board meeting next Tuesday.

School officials believe the taxable value of property in the county is continuing to increase. The county assessor’s office is to reveal new taxable values in March.

If the numbers are higher than for the current year, even cutting the tax rate by 4 percent could net the school system as much money as or more than it receives now.

School Superintendent Michael Hince agreed the value of taxable property probably will go up. Still, he urged board members to be cautious. He told them, “we don’t want to lower it too much, because the state might cut funding by about 7.5 percent.”

That is possible, but it is too early to say whether it is likely.

State revenue has been running substantially behind estimates used by the Legislature to enact the current-year budget. To keep spending balanced with income, state officials may have to order a mid-year spending cut.

If that happens, public schools probably will be shielded from some or all of the cuts, as has been Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s practice.

Even with uncertainty over state funding and the county’s taxable property values, board members should be looking at a substantial break for Marshall County taxpayers. Property values have increased dramatically in each of the past two years, giving the board millions of dollars in additional revenue.

So, while Marshall County schools have needs, so do taxpayers – who have been generous in their support of public education for many years.