CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Voters in West Virginia’s largest county will go to the polls Saturday to decide on a second excess levy that could take the property tax rate in Kanawha County to the full amount allowed by law, a 100 percent rate already in place in 21 other counties.
If approved, the additional Kanawha County levy would generate $24 million for the school system in its first year, and more over the next five years, while also providing $3 million annually for Kanawha’s County public libraries.
“The future is, kind of, what’s at stake here,” said Robin Rector, a member of the Kanawha County Board of Education. She said she understands the additional levy proposal comes at a time when many people are struggling financially.
“I feel their pain. I’m like the rest of them as well. I don’t care to see my taxes raised,” but Rector said she’s supporting the levy because of the potential impact more investments in education now will have on the community, at large, in the future.
She said the Kanawha board has made good fiscal decisions to cut spending in recent years, but still faces a more than $4 million deficit next year and potential punishments from the state School Building Authority, for future construction projects, if the levy rate is not at 100 percent.
One of the most vocal opponents of the levy proposal, though, is Pete Thaw, president of the Kanawha County Board of Education.
“Number one, we don’t need the money. Number two, it’s a hardship on the people. Number three, we spill more than we use now. It’s ridiculous to give these people more money,” said Thaw of the reasons for his opposition.
Last year, voters in Kanawha County approved an excess levy that capped the tax at a flat rate, 65 percent. This year’s levy proposal would lift the cap Board members had originally supported as tax relief. “The taxpayers in Kanawha County deserve some help instead of being abused. We’re abusing these people,” said Thaw.
Both Thaw and Rector were guests on Wednesday’s MetroNews “Talkline.”
Early voting ended Wednesday in Kanawha County. The polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday for Election Day.
In Hancock County, voters will also be deciding on Saturday on the renewal of an excess levy that has been in place there since 1949. If approved, the levy would generate an estimated $7.1 million toward Hancock County’s annual school budget of $43 million.