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Cabell levy up for renewal

Apr. 14, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The Cabell County Schools excess levy will be up for renewal by voters during the primary election on May 13.

The measure was first passed by voters in 1954, and it since has become a vital supplement to the school system's budget, covering the cost of staffing, supplies and other initiatives not funded through state appropriations, Superintendent Bill Smith said.

The levy currently provides for 19.49 percent of the school system's unrestricted operating budget, or slightly less than $23.4 million each year.

It annually was generating $19.8 million when it last was approved by voters for the 2010-11 fiscal year.

"It keeps us from having to work on a shoestring budget," Smith said. "If we were just looking at state levels of funding, we would have to look at suspending quite a few programs and initiatives we've had here."

If approved, the levy would go into effect for the 2015-16 fiscal year.

The levy provides funding for a laundry list of things for the system including textbooks, library books, computer technology, support for food service programs, additional classroom teachers, athletic coaches, facility maintenance, equipment, supplies, staff development, extra duty assignments, dental and optical insurance, uniforms for service personnel and extra pay for cooks and custodians.

The levy also provides some funding to the Cabell County Library system and the Greater Huntignton Parks & Recreation District.

The levy is expected to provide $1.4 million to the library and $440,000 to the district.

"When you look at the total community, the K-through-12 program has a major impact," Smith said. "People come to a place because you have a good education system, and they want to live where the good schools are. Businesses come in, and realtors, and ask me the same questions about our school system. All of those things are important to the welfare of our community."

If the levy is renewed, it will not raise taxes, and its rates have remained the same since it first was put into effect 60 years ago, said Jody Lucas, treasurer for the school system.

He said one advantage Cabell residents have is the fact that local properties are assessed on a regular basis, which means residents shouldn't often experience sharp, unexpected increases or declines in property value or their taxes.

"The rate stays the same, but it's tied to the values," Lucas said. "There's no guarantee in these values, but we believe they're stable here. They've remained stable for some time."

The stability of the tax base paired with the consistency of the levy's passage also have made it easier for Cabell County to qualify for grant funding and appropriations from the West Virginia School Building Authority, Smith said.

He said grants often require some form of local funding match, and the SBA takes into account a local school system's ability to support a given project. "Cabell County is doing what they would refer to as its local share," Smith said. "Counties that come to the SBA without any local funds to add to their projects don't typically get approved. When communities make investments in their schools, they take a very good look at that."

Early voting in Cabell County will be from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. from Wednesday, April 30, until Saturday, May 10, in the Cabell County Clerk's office at the Cabell County Courthouse.

Follow Reporter Lacie Pierson on Twitter, @LaciePiersonHD.

Cabell County Schools Excess Levy: Cost

To figure out the impact of Cabell County levies on a resident's taxes, take the assessed value of a property, divide it by 100, then multiply it by the excess levy rate for the appropriate tax class.

Class I: Tangible personal property employed in agriculture and intangible personal property including notes, bonds, stocks and accounts receivable.

Levy Rate: 22.95 percent per $100

Class II: Residential property and all farms, including land used for horticulture and grazing.

Levy Rate: 45.9 percent per $100

Class III and IV: Business property and personal motor vehicles, campers, motor homes, motorcycles, motor boats, utility trailers, bulldozers, end loaders, tractor trailers and all other property not classified as I or II.

Levy Rate: 91.8 percent per $100

Example: The median value for a home sold in Cabell County is $94,500, according to Cabell County Schools Treasurer Jody Lucas.

The taxable amount of the home, which is 60 percent of its value, is $56,700. A home currently occupied by its owner is a Class II property, which means its tax rate is 45.9 percent.

Lucas said the owner of that home would pay $260.25 for the levy.

Here is how the formula would work for this property:

$94,500 x 0.6 = $56,700/100 = $567 x 0.459 = $260.25.




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