WHEELING - Saving taxpayers money is important, even if it is just a penny, according to Ohio County Board of Education member Shane Mallett.
Mallett this week voted against a motion to keep the school district's excess levy rate at 95.5 percent, which is expected to generate an additional $2.6 million annually based on higher property assessments in Ohio County. Mallett favored dropping the rate to 95 percent, which he said still would have generated additional funds for the district while providing for anticipated expenses in the coming months.
Board president James Jorden, though, said the savings to the average Ohio County taxpayer would be just $4.34 annually if the rate were dropped to 95 percent. Mallett wasn't certain as to the exact savings.
"Even if it is a penny, saving taxpayer money is a good thing," Mallett said. "If every governmental entity did that, there would be a big tax break. I know other members of the board are claiming to be fiscally conservative, so I guess I'm really financially conservative. Even if it's a penny (that can be saved), I believe we should return it to the taxpayers. ... Ohio County voters are good to Ohio County Schools. Even if it is a penny, it is taxpayer money."
Board member Gary Kestner joined Mallett in voting against the 95.5 percent rate, while Jorden, Sarah Koegler and Christine Carder all voted in favor of maintaining the levy rate.
The excess levy expires on June 30, 2015, and Ohio County voters will be asked to renew it for another five years during the May 13 primary election. The levy generates approximately $10 million for the school district each year, and this revenue is expected to raise to about $12.6 million a year.
While the school district would receive the $2,600,936 annually, it also would have to repay the state an estimated $1,323,332 it receives from the district - dropping the amount of increased revenue from the levy to an actual $1,277,604 each year.
Additional costs in the districts, meanwhile, are estimated to be about $933,000 in the next fiscal year. The district expects to pay more for Medicaid funding, teacher salaries and funding for the Ohio County Public Library, and to buy two additional school buses. It's estimated about $344,604 would remain, and could be transferred to the school district's permanent improvement or rainy day fund.
Mallett believes dropping the levy rate to 95 percent still would have generated additional revenue for the district to cover the anticipated expenditures, with some left over for the permanent improvement fund.