WSAZ | Charleston, West Virginia | News

UPDATE: Battle on Raising Taxes to Fix School Deficit Continues

UPDATE 2/11/13 @ 11:30 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va ( WSAZ) --The battle centered on raising taxes to alleviate school deficit raged on Monday evening at a special budget meeting for Kanawha County School officials.

Josh Hanson is a passionate father who attended the meeting on behalf of his two children in the school system. He's committed to preventing low funds from affecting his kids' education.

"The whole community needs to come around and say, 'Hey, we need to solve this education budget problem,'" he said.

School officials forecast trouble in the coming years due to inflation and potential federal funding cuts. They say school programs like art and athletics could face cuts if money doesn't show.

One solution is to do away with the cap on the excess levy in the district, which voters approved in May. That means more money would come into the district, but property taxes would go up.

It's a fix that divides both members of the school board and the community.

"We all voted for this capped levy and now four of us are thinking, 'Was this wrong?' '' school board member Becky Jordon said.

But president Pete Thaw says he's firmly against raising taxes, no matter the cost.

"People are castigating Kanawha for being the only county that has a capped excess levy like it's something bad," he said. "It's a joke."

Brett Lauffer lives in Charleston and agrees.

"We need money for education, but come on already ... I'm broke," he said.

But parents like Hanson say they're willing to do whatever it takes to ensure the quality of their students' education.

"If raising taxes is all that can be done, we have to [ask] as a community if we're willing to do what's best for the students so that our kids can get the best education they can," he said.

School board members say only the public has the ability to remove the excess levy cap.

No course of action has been determined yet. School board officials say they'll revisit the issue at their March meeting.



ORIGINAL STORY 1/23/13
CHARLESTON, W.Va ( WSAZ) -- Some on the Kanawha County School Board want to raise more money and taxes could be how they do it.

Becky Jordon, a school board member, said Wednesday she and other members are concerned about a potential school deficit. A levy on property taxes would allow the school board to raise money.

The proposal has divided the school board. Board President Pete Thaw said he was completely against the tax.

"We have enough money," he said. "I'm opposed to taxing people into oblivion."

Kanawha County residents also were divided about whether to increase taxes again. One longtime resident saying the idea was "lousy," though another said a child's education is more important than a small tax increase.

"They need a better education, so if that's what it takes that's what it will be," Vera Rudolph said.

Leigh Cielensky said her first reaction to hearing taxes could be going up was, "oh no, not again." Cielensky said she'd be interested in knowing exactly how the money would be used before she'd vote for its approval.

Jordon said areas like technology in schools, maintenance issues and pre-k and kindergarten programs are where the money could go.

In 2008, an excess levy was approved in Kanawha County. The current proposal is in its preliminary stages, and officials aren't sure when the plan will officially be on the table.


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