Wood BOE discusses continuing levy

One continuing theme, one point, one thought emerged from Thursday’s Wood County Board of Education work session for November’s vote for the renewal of a continuing levy.

“It is this,” said board president Rick Olcott, “it’s a continuing levy. The rate is going to stay at 80 percent and there will be no new taxes with it. You raise the percentage and it’s no longer a continuing levy.”

The Board of Education will formally approve the language for the levy during Tuesday’s meeting. The approved ballot language must be submitted to Wood County Clerk Mark Rhodes for ballot preparation Aug. 24.

Work continued Thursday evening with some levy funding categories names being changed with the object of the board not painting itself into a box with language. Wood County Schools Superintendent Will Hosaflook emphasized the importance of allowing flexibility within categories.

“The excess levy in 2015, which is made up of property tax values, was $16,769,716,” Olcott said. “Assessments have grown the amount to $18,255,587. Right now if people look at their taxes, they will find a 2004 bond levy, with sales being in 2005, which goes to 2020 that was worth $50 million. In 2016, there was a $40 million bond sale approved, with the bonds being sold in 2017 for 15.5 years.

“This bond levy for $18,255,587 is going to be voted on Nov. 6 with the implementation beginning at the start of the fiscal year July 1, 2019 for five years with no new taxes,” Olcott said.

Olcott said Wood County Schools has approximately 12,200 students and since the first bond levy in 2004, the county has lost 2,200 students.

Olcott stated wording is critical about taxes and increases as the senior citizen rate is increasing in West Virginia with many seniors no longer having family members in Wood County Schools. “West Virginia ranks second only to Maine, having passed Florida for second, as the most densely populated over 65 state in the country,” he said.

“There are a lot of positives in this levy proposal,” Olcott said. “We just have to keep it affordable. There are those two bonds which are overlapping until 2020.”

“Schools are the backbone of communities,” Hosaflook said. “And the school playgrounds are used a lot. Right now, there is no money for playgrounds and playgrounds are very expensive, very expensive.” He cited the playground for the new Williamstown Elementary School, which initially had a playground fund goal of $150,000 in December of 2017, “but that has been increased.”

Some of the other items which are going to be continued to be worked on will be the board of education’s dental plan, security resource personnel and athletic facilities. “It’s the numbers in the personnel — salaries and benefits which are going to be needing some work. There are numbers here which are solid and won’t need work,” Olcott said.

It was discussed during the meeting the dental plan needs work to establish a consistent charge for dental procedures. It was stated dental work can have a fee of $75 from some dentists to $200 for others for the same procedure.

“There’s some work to do,” Olcott said, “but it will be ready for approval Tuesday, go to the county clerk and then to the ballot. After that, it’s up to the public.”