Vote ‘Yes’ for the levy
I have the honor of serving as an appointed board member of the West Virginia School Building Authority (WVSBA). The WVSBA is the entity tasked with selecting counties and projects to receive grant funding from the State of West Virginia for school construction. Needless to say, our funding is scarce and precious. For example, in the 2015 “Needs” funding cycle, we had $149,000,000 in requests from 20 different counties but we only had $54,000,000 to grant to them. As one can imagine, the competition for these funds is fierce.
When we evaluate the counties requesting funding, one of the key components is “local share”. This reflects the amount of the project cost that the county is bringing to the table, to be coupled with WVSBA funding to cover the total project cost. This local share can come from a variety of sources. The most common of these are school construction bonds and county savings.
I can tell you with one hundred percent certainty that a county’s history of passing an Excess Levy and School Construction Bond weighs heavily in our decision making process. A county that has historically passed its Excess Levy shows a commitment to participating in the funding of education in their county. When the voters of a county do not pass an Excess Levy, it demonstrates the voters’ lack of desire to participate in school funding (above the regular statutory levy) and truly hamstrings their county and makes it very difficult for their county to obtain WVSBA funding.
The WVSBA has been very good to Jefferson County since its inception. Since 1989, WVSBA has provided Jefferson County with $55,597,785 in grant funding. This roughly matched the $54,512,063 in local share provided by Jefferson County Schools. A large contributor to the $54 million in local share for Jefferson County has been the Excess Levy, which has been renewed every five years since 1946. This is important to note: the Excess Levy in Jefferson County is not a new tax.
As a longtime resident of Jefferson County, and a parent of two Jefferson High School graduates; I highly encourage you to Vote Yes for the renewal of the Excess Levy starting Nov. 28 through Dec. 9 for early voting or on Election Day, Saturday, Dec. 12, 2015.
Eric Lewis, CPA