Jefferson schools tout excess levy

October 30, 1997


Staff Writer, Charles Town

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - Jefferson County residents will vote Saturday on whether to continue a special levy that provides about 20 percent of the school system's funding.

The levy on the ballot Saturday will keep local taxes at the same level from July 1, 1998, to June 30, 2003, school officials said, and all monies will stay in the county.

The special levy is included on county real estate taxes and draws about 43.6 cents per $100 of assessed value on a homeowner's property taxes, said schools spokeswoman Liz Thompson.


It provides about an additional $6.9 million each year in funding to the schools, Thompson said. The annual school system's budget is about $35 million.

Under state law, all counties tax residents at 40.96 cents per $100 of assessed property value, according to the Jefferson County Assessor's Office.

A house valued at $100,000 is assessed at $60,000. The state-required tax for schools costs the owner of a $100,000 property $245.76 a year, according to the assessor's office. The excess levy costs taxpayers with a $100,000 property an additional $261.60 a year, according to the assessor's figures.

Thompson said the additional funds are needed in Jefferson County because the school system faces competition for teachers from surrounding states.

About half of the levy - $3.5 million - would be used to maintain salary supplements and stipends to teachers, professionals and service personnel and would include the first raises for teachers since the 1989-1990 school year, school officials said.

Teachers in Jefferson County with no experience start at $23,613 a year. In Washington County, teachers start at $25,075 and in Chambersburg, Pa., they start at $28,532, Thompson said. In Berryville, Va., teachers start at $25,000 a year, she said.

Without the supplemental salaries provided by the excess levy, beginning teachers in Jefferson County would be paid $3,170 less annually, or $20,443 a year, Thompson said.

Several Jefferson County residents waiting for the Jefferson High School Homecoming Parade Thursday night said they support the levy.

"I'm always in favor of any type of improvements for the school system. Imagine the county not having that extra funding," said Debra Stewart, 36, of Ranson, W.Va.

Doug Horner, 45, of Shepherdstown, W.Va., said he will vote for the levy "because it's important to support public education and it's a very modest tax and it doesn't raise taxes, it keeps them at the current level."

The levy would also allow the school system to spend about an additional $750,000 for school maintenance and repairs, Thompson said.

If the levy does not pass, the school system would have to find a way to cut nearly $7 million a year from the budget, she said.

The levy also would provide $563,000 for classroom, library and vehicle supplies, as well as $7,500 to public libraries and $12,500 to the county's 4-H program.

Voters will go to their regular polling places, with the following exceptions:

* Harpers Ferry district residents in precinct 17 go to Chestnut Hill United Methodist Church.

* Kabletown district residents in precinct 23 will vote at the Tuscawilla Hills office.

* Shepherdstown district residents in precinct 35A-35B will vote at Shepherdstown Junior High School.

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