With perhaps some exceptions, nobody likes to pay taxes, but how taxes are collected, and what they are used for, can make a difference in what we think about them.

For example, the biggest tax burdens for most West Virginians are consumer purchases and income.  But you don’t hear too much complaining about them, probably because of the way they are assessed. Sales taxes are automatically added to the purchase price and income taxes are taken directly out of your paycheck.

It’s almost as though you don’t see the money, or it’s never quite in your hands.

Property taxes, however, are different.  You actually get a bill and then write a check to the county sheriff (unless it’s automatically added to your mortgage).  If you fall behind, your name ends up in the newspaper with other delinquents.

No wonder West Virginians take property taxes (real and personal) so… personally. So when counties decide to vote whether to raise their property taxes, all hell breaks loose.

Saturday, Kanawha County voters will decide whether to increase their property taxes to provide more money for public education. The proposal would raise excess levyl rates to their maximum, generating $131 million over the next five years for the school system.

Supporters of the levy, like school board member Robin Rector, argue passionately for passage.

“The future is what’s at stake here,” Rector said on Metronews Talkline Wednesday. She says without additional money, Kanawha County schools are headed for a deficit, which means cuts in vital educational services.

Nonsense, says another school board member, Pete Thaw, who opposes the levy.

“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,” Thaw said.

Kanawha County property owners have taken notice, with many doing the math to determine just how much more they would have to pay.  Business owners are paying particular attention, since commercial property is taxed at a higher rate.

“It will increase my property taxes at home $477.80, and another $1,500 on my rentals and office!” one levy opponent emailed me.

But a levy supporter emailed: “It comes down to, in an era of fewer federal dollars and increasing expenses, are we going to invest in our children and our community?  We say yes.”

And there’s the divide.

Government has become increasingly complicated, which means these kinds of decisions come down to perceptions and trust: do voters believe the schools are doing a good job and deserve greater community support or do they question the efficacy of public education and use the levy to make a statement.

We’ll find out Saturday evening who had the most convincing argument.

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Comments

  • Bob Martin

    I personally was glad to see the levy fail. Way to go voters, enough is enough.

  • Joe

    Rich:
    There are a couple of options you didn't mention. One is to use the current education money for eduction, and use it as pot to fund he counites other ancillary vote buying programs.

    Thjrowing good money after bad is not necessarily a good think, nor is giving some with debt issues more money to spend going to cure them of their excessive spending habits.

  • Retired Teacher

    Bah, who cares anyway? Who won the football game?

  • Rich

    Funny Mr. Thaw doesn't think teachers need the money. I have several friends who are teachers in Kanawha County. I've been with them on several trips with them to Staples, Walmart and other places to get supplies for their kids, and pay for them personally. So either Mr. Thaw has contributed to gross financial mismanagement which keeps money from to getting to the kids, or needed money is not getting to kids, and he's not concerned about it.

    • MoMoney

      I would imagine that with the money that would be saved from paying teachers not to work on Senate faculty days, there would be more than enough to pay for supplies.

  • Shadow

    There was a comment about old folks not wanting to pay more in taxes and is probably true. Maybe the reason they are that way is that their parents paid for their school transportation or they walked, the parents paid for their books and paper, the parents paid for their lunches, and the sports for most was in the streets. Now, all you have to do is produce a child and put he or she out the front door on school days except when there is a teacher's meeting. But the worst cut of all is that the Government doesn't go out of its way to increase the job potential and they are educating future citizens of OH, VA, etc.

  • Walsingham

    As someone who is trying to make an intelligent decision, not an impassioned one, there have not been very detailed arguments for or against the levy. A lot more attention has been put into the signage than actually explaining the levy. Media coverage, by the TWO Charleston newspapers has also been lacking. Otherwise, it's an old argument: old people don't want more taxes, younger people with school age kids are OK with spending more. I don't want the system to go in the red, but I also want to see the system make tough fiscal decisions such as school consolidation and reducing administrative costs.

    • realitycheck

      not so sure that your generalization is accurate. lots of folks i know with kids are against the idea of increasing taxes - they understand that throwing money at a problem isn't always the solution.

  • Dan

    "For the children.." is the biggest bunch of tear jerking bologna ever.

    • Joe

      As in, ''Giving us a raise is in the best interests for the children''

      • MoMoney

        Every time the liberals play the "its for the children" card, you can rest assured that the children are not the intended focus.

  • MoMoney

    Do schools need some many different extra cirricular activities and sports?? Lets cut down the number of sports being played at taxpayer expense. The number of bus rides to these games. The gallons of gasoline wasted on these trips. Do we need sanctioned cross country teams, swimming teams, golf teams, tennis teams, etc.?? Let the parents of these students foot the bill for such BS. Not the taxpayers.

    • Walsingham

      Fine, let's start with football.

      • realitycheck

        good point. find it interesting that cross country, swimming, golf, and tennis made MoMoney's list. the kids who play these sports, dare i say, tend to be smarter & get better grades then most fo the kids who play football. I love football, but i was dumbfounded at the sports that were singled out.

        • MoMoney

          But nobody buys tickets to attend those events and they are not self-supporting. Taxpayers foot the bill for them.
          I wouldn't mind if they reduced the sports to two per semester for boys and two for the girls. I can really care less which two either.

  • Joe

    Maybe the School Board could quit sending the children to ball games and the Clay center to subsidize these other two white elephants the tax payers are to support and stay in the shcools to educate the children.

    The shcool board already gets annual increases in tax revenues everytime the assesor increases the propety values. They seem to ingore this when claiming they need more money.

    Maybe the edcucation dollars should be used for education, and not a pot for every little program the county wants to find a funding source for. In todays internet and ebook society, what function does the libray really serve and maybe they sould be downsized to reflect their role in the current society.

  • WC

    A tax levy was passed as always in our county and we were told everything would stay the same as before. It was to cover text books, supplies, etc.. but the schools can't teach some of the promised curriculum, because the county dosen't have the money for software or textbooks. We see a published record of where the money is to be spent before the election to encourage people to pass the levy and you feel that the money that is earmarked for certain areas is truly needed. After the levy is passed it appears the budget published in the paper is not being distributed as it was intended, and more than likely being used in other areas. I am not sure how detailed the audit is to determine if the money is being spent in the intended areas or if the money is moved around once the county has access to the money. Accountability for these funds is needed not a blanket audit of this is what you got this is what was spent. An audit of each individual earmark is needed to determine if the levy monies are being used where we are led to believe they are to be used. A detailed audit would probably lead to a better use of the levy money.

  • X-Man

    Hoppy, interesting article.

    Two points:

    1. How about Marshall Cty, where oil & gas has doubled the tax base in six years and property taxes have decreased significantly as a result? More reason to promote that industry!

    2. You are right about people being upset about real estate and personal property taxes because they have to actually write a check, while other taxes are withheld from pay or tacked on the the bill, and no as obvious. If we want to get control of government spending, we should make people aware of what government is costing us! So let's eliminate payroll deductions and make everyone write a monthly check to the federal and state governments! Then let's see what they say about taxes....

    Similarly, in the same manner, we could solve the health care crisis if people were more informed consumers. If we had to write a check for medical care and then seek reimbursement, we'd be much more aware of the waste in that industry, and we'd be more cautious consumers. Those of us with healthcare through our employers don't pay attention to what our insurance rates are, as it is withheld.

    Free markets will properly allocate resources every time, but only if the consumer recognizes what his costs are.........

  • Doug

    If I get to the point of where I owe more than I make, I have to look at my expenses and make and make cuts. I wish I could go to my employer and ask for a raise and tell them my children will suffer if I don't get one. What do you think they will say.

    • GregG

      They will view your hardship as an opportunity to take advantage of you. They will say to themselves, ol' Doug is in a financial predicament so how can we take advantage of his economic situation in order to increase our profits? Oh, I know. Let's lay John off and place his job duties on Doug. But to make it look like we are helping Doug we will increase his hours from 30 to 35 hours per week. It's a win-win for business! That's how it works Doug.

      • Rick S.

        GregC, I know from reading your comments in the past that you dislike businesses, which is your prerogative. But believe it or not, there are actually some business people out there who care about their employees and treat them well. I know firsthand, because I used to work for one of them.

        In my 25 years of working for different companies, I have seen my fellow employees take advantage of the businesses much, much more than any of the businesses have taken advantage of them. That is from my personal experience.

        • GregG

          I will not argue with that. In the past, I too have worked for some good businesses. But that was years ago. Today, with this quick profit above all else attitude and the lack of Unions to keep some of these companies in check, I doubt there are that many "good" ones out there.

  • ConservativeRealist

    Curious as to what triggers a comment to get "moderated"...

  • Matt

    Vote "No". Extra funding does not promise a brighter, smarter child for our future.

    The literacy rate was higher during the Civil War than it is now and all they used were slate, a board, and a few books. They drafted amazing letters and mastered the english language without the use of IPads or anything else this levy will pay for.

    No amount of funding can help this lost generation, their problems start in the home.

    • realitycheck

      but the government swears that the more money you throw at a problem the better... you mean that's not true?

  • ConservativeRealist

    I heard Ms. Rector on the radio this morning talking about putting the levy back on the ballot in May if it fails on Saturday. She alluded to - and I am paraphrasing - that they wanted to test the waters and obtain the public's opinion. At an expense of almost $300,000.00 for this special election - that is some kind of test!

    No where have I heard of making cuts in the administration which has repeatedly been cited as top heavy. No where have I heard about fiscal responsibility and exploring other ways to cut costs. We, as parents, are already bombarded with our kids bringing home fundraisers from day one that we are expected to go and schlep around - that's on top of being given a lengthy list of school supplies that we have to purchase for our children and the classroom as a whole.

    When the public asks for increased accountability from teachers and administrators, the WVEA and other teacher organizations raise the hue and cry against national certification, drug testing, stricter attendance policies, dress codes, and just about every other "real-world" requirement.

    As has been posted many times before on Metro News, the diatribe of, "...its for the kids..." has been played so much the record is broken and we, the people, as taxpayers, aren't going to keep feeding the jukebox without some significant changes.