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Bellaire School Levy Tops Belmont County Issues

October 21, 2012
The Intelligencer / Wheeling News-Register

In Bellaire, school administrators are hoping the fifth time is the charm.

Since May 2010, village voters have rejected four separate attempts to raise revenue for the Bellaire Local School District. Two of the rejected attempts involved a 1-percent income tax increase while the other two asked voters to approve 12.9-mill levies.

This time around, the district is seeking an 8.7-mill levy for general operations, which comes out to about an additional $940,000 annually.

The levy, to be voted on Nov. 6, would run for five years. Superintendent Tony Scott has said the cost assessed to a $100,000 home in the district would be about $267 a year, or about $22 a month.

Those receiving the Homestead Exemption would pay about $200 a year, or roughly $17 a month.

Scott remains optimistic the lower levy amount will help this year, and also said the district's work over the past three years to reduce expenses could help propel the levy to passage.

"Over the last three years, we've shown fiscal responsibility, and I'm hoping we can get the support of the community behind us," he said.

To reduce expenses, the school district reduced its administrators from nine to four. Assistant principals at each of the district's three school buildings accounted for three of the five positions eliminated.

The district also has cut almost 40 teaching positions in the past three years, according to Scott, who said there are now about 80 teachers in Bellaire schools.

Also in Belmont County, Pease Township trustees see the need to improve roads and keep streetlights on in the township, and they are asking residents for about $100,000 more annually to achieve the work.

Pease Township voters - except those living in Bridgeport, Brookside, Yorkville and Martins Ferry - will see two additional levies on their ballot when they go the polls Nov. 6. The first levy asks voters for 1 mill specifically for maintenance of roads and bridges.

The second 1-mill levy, meanwhile, would go toward the township's operating expenses. Money generated would be geared toward the elimination of slum and blight in the village, as well as paying utility bills to keep the street lights operational, according to Trustee Michael Bianconi.

Information from the Belmont County Auditor's Office indicates each levy is expected to generate $49,562 annually, and that the two levies together would result in about an extra $100,000 in revenue for Pease Township.

A home valued at $50,000 would be assessed an additional $15.31 annually in taxes for each levy, resulting in a $30.62 yearly additional cost for the property owner if both levies were approved.

Two separate levies are necessary in Pease Township because the money designated for roads and bridges can't be co-mingled with that in the general operating fund, he continued.

Bianconi noted the second levy will go toward paying the electric bill for the 175 street lights in the township.

A number of additional levies also will appear before Belmont County voters during the Nov. 6 general election:

- Belmont County Senior Services - renewal of 1-mill levy for five years.

- Belmont County 911 - additional 1-mill levy for five years.

- St. Clairsville City and Richland Township - additional 0.25-mill for Memorial Park District for five years.

- St. Clairsville City and Richland Township - replacement of 5-mill levy for Cumberland Trail Fire District for a continuing period of time.

- Belmont Village - renewal of 2-mill levy for current operating expenses for five years.

- Bethesda Village - renewal of 1.5-mill levy for streets for five years.

- Bethesda Village - (precinct 049) local liquor option, VFW Post 9712.

- Bridgeport Village - renewal of 3-mill levy for current expenses for five years.

- Bridgeport Village - renewal of 2-mill levy for current expenses for five years.

- Flushing Village - (precinct 043) local liquor option, Convenient Food Mart.

- Flushing Village - renewal of 1 mill parks and recreation levy for five years.

- Shadyside Village and Mead Township Fire District- additional 4-mill levy for a continuing period of time.

- Pease-Colerain Township Fire District - replacement of 3-mill levy for a continuing period of time.

- Smith Township - renewal of 2-mill community center levy for five years.

- Smith Township - renewal of 4-mill fire levy for five years.

- Smith Township - renewal of 0.9-mill levy for roads and bridges for five years.

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