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West Virginia Politics WV Elections 2020

Vote Against the Jefferson County School Excess Levy Mega Property Tax

By Richard Urban

Recently, without any public discussion or notification, and in the midst of the economic hardships of the Corona Virus, the Jefferson County Board of Education voted school officials an annual salary increase of $310,000.  This increase is tied to percentage of total salary, and will continue to reap benefits for school administrative staff for years to come.  This increase was also voted in at the last meeting before new school board member Donna Joy took her seat on July 1st, 2020. 

Now, we the voters of Jefferson County are asked to renew this wasteful and expensive tax, which more than doubles the amount of school tax collected, while increasing overall property tax bills by a whopping 40%.  On a rental property valued at $225,000 that means a monthly increase of property taxes of $103, or $1239 per year.  That means renters will pay over $100 per month extra for rent that their landlord will pass along to them.  Similarly, homeowners will also pay over $50 per month extra.

The Board of Education has apparently come to consider these funds as an entitlement.  Voters have to hire a detective to figure out where the funds went.  It took some three months for the Spirit of Jefferson newspaper to get the information needed to calculate for themselves how much salary increase each of 38 administrative employees got.  The highest amount was $20,755 annual increase, with the average annual increase being $9207. 

Only about two percent of the excess levy goes toward increasing teacher and service personnel salary.  Due to lack of transparency, it is impossible to readily ascertain how much is spent on additional non-teacher positions, like librarians, and how much is paid for the bloated administrative staff, now at 38 positions to administer 1280 school personnel and 8900 students.  In contrast, the much larger Kanawha County school system serves 25,373 students and has 47 administrators!

Another example is the lack of transparency into what the legal expenses of the Jefferson County School System are.  No invoices detail how much is paid for legal services.  In fiscal 2019, $997,678 were paid to EPIC, an inter-county organization that provides support services for schools.  However, the invoices do not say what the expenditures were for.  One of the services provided by EPIC is the services of attorney Laura Sutton, although that is not one of the stated services listed on their website.

Also, don’t forget the $140,000 the Board of Education foolishly spent (that we know of) trying to condemn the Rockwool property after it changed its mind about the Rockwool plant due to public outcry.

On a closing note, teachers in Jefferson County earn an average of $50, 327 and are contracted to work 200 days (40 weeks) per year.  As I mentioned above, only some 2 percent of this pay comes from the excess levy mega tax.  Much of the tax goes toward the bloated administration, excessive legal expenses and who knows what else.  And due to a lack of transparency, we won’t know what else.

In 2015, less that 14 percent of registered voters voted in favor of the excess levy mega tax, saddling all county property owners with the huge mega tax.  Be sure to vote on November 3rd, and vote “AGAINST THE LEVY” on the school excess levy mega tax.  Also vote “NO (AGAINST THE BOND ISSUE) on the school bond issue, which will increase taxes even further.  The Jefferson County School Board cannot be trusted for a transparent accounting of your tax dollars and the above examples show how your tax dollars are being spent wastefully.

14 replies on “Vote Against the Jefferson County School Excess Levy Mega Property Tax”

THANK YOU!!! I have been telling people for over a decade we are being ripped off big time. This is simply theft of our own money. We have to vote this nonsense down. I wanted to make signs but I know they would only get stolen…again. I want teachers to have better pay, but I know that the e board of education takes care of themselves. Losers.

If you want teachers to get paid then vote YES for levy. Teachers were told by the superintendent that they will incur a pay cut if the levy fails, as will all custodians, bus drivers, etc. They levy also pays for dental and eye care for all employees. If you’re mad about the board’s use of money then stick it to them by voting no for the bond but don’t make 1200+ employees suffer for it by voting no for the levy.

We will have our pay cut and a LOT of service personnel will leave also I have been driving 23 years and make 26 a year if my pay is cut the roughly 4000 a year the levy provides in my income I will have NO choice but to look for another job

This chart shows Jefferson County service personnel salaries.
Only the November check, an amount ranging from $250 for new employees to $1100 for a 20 year and longer employee, is labeled as “Additional salary paid with levy/county funds”.
The March and May checks only indicate “county funds”. One would assume that since there are two different labels, that, indeed, only the November check, which is 1% to less than 4% of the total salary, is paid by the excess levy.
Can you point to information that clarifies that all additional salary funds listed come from the excess levy, and not the regular county school tax?
Also, the base salary listed for 23 year employees is from $29,140 to $32,550, without the bonus, and the bonus for 23 year employees is $3150 total.

It’s great that teachers have dental and eye care. However, many Jefferson County citizens do not, and have to pay out of pocket, including seniors on Medicare.

So how about voting out the BOE members instead? Teachers, like me, depend on the LEVY to supplement our pitiful salaries. FYI- teachers with over 20 years experience, most whom have Master’s degrees plus, will lose up to $8,000 from their salaries. There will be a mass exodus of GREAT teachers b/c we CANNOT survive. So many teachers are already working second jobs to supplement the salary they earn now.

Please reconsider. Show up to BOE meetings. Demand to be heard. Vote them out when their terms are up. But please, don’t leave my colleagues and myself without a means to survive.

You can vote for the Levy but against the Bond. They are two separate ballots. You do not have to vote against or for both.

Thank you for considering this. I respect your choice. Just wanted you to hear from a teacher.

This chart shows Jefferson County teacher salaries.
Only the November check, an amount ranging from $500 for new teachers to $2000 for a 20 year and longer teacher is labeled as “Additional salary paid with levy/county funds”.
The March and May checks only indicate “county funds”. One would assume that since there are two different labels, that, indeed, only the November check, which is 14% to 39% of the total stipend, is paid by the excess levy.
Can you point to information that clarifies that all additional salary funds listed come from the excess levy, and not the regular county school tax?
Also, the highest stipends listed are $5150 for the entire year, not $8000. Can you show where the $8000 figure comes from?

It’s time voters pay attention! There is one bond (huge price tag) for construction and fixing our school buildings. The BOE has paid the last bond off. So presently we have no bond money for the 2 new schools and repairs needed. The second is a levy. Several years ago teachers left the classrooms for our students. We have seen how the lack of pay and health care leaves WV without teachers. As time has gone on we teachers are ranked 50th in the United States for pay and benefits. Here’s the wait for it…if the levy doesn’t pass Teachers Will NOT be here for next years school year! All teachers and service personnel will LOSS money from their paycheck in large amounts because everyone in Jefferson County pays part of our salaries. The BOE is not asking for a raise but what they have gotten before. The situation with monies going to front personal is a totally different situation and I believe if you call the Superintendent she will explain it to you. So when you vote and these two items coming up for your vote….think carefully! Do I want a school system in this county? Does the BOE need new building and repairs are the ones we have? It’s up to you. Vote your Conscience but be aware of the consequences!

This levy is way to convoluted to be simply rubber stamped. We need to be able to vote on each of the line items individually. I’m not stating there are not money needs but this appears like we’re being treated like sheeple. Also, am I the only one who feels a little blind sided on this subject? I know the BOE has meetings, but if the BOE has money to try and stop construction of Rockwool then it has money to mail the financial needs of our education system or put forth a more intuitive easier platform for transparency. If it already does then please let us know.

I agree. If the School Board wants to make its case, then give us a detailed breakdown of how they have spent the money; not ‘$17 million for salary support’ and similar vague descriptions.

I’am a landlord people get ready if his passes rents are going up and affordable housing goes out the window. Increase of more homeless in Louisville. Guess school board doesn’t see the result of their action. Need to do away with school board.

This levy is for Jefferson County West Virginia, and, unforetunatley, it did pass. However, the same principle applies everywhere. School Boards should be transparent and accoutable to the taxpayers. That is not the case here, and no doubt in many jurisdictions.

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