CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Officials are lining up on either side of the debate surrounding a proposed property tax to benefit Kanawha County's school and library.
Damron Bradshaw, mayor of Chesapeake and president of the Upper Kanawha Valley Mayors' Association, announced Monday that he is lobbying against the proposed tax.
"It's money that West Virginians just don't have the money to spend," he said.
Bradshaw based his argument against the tax -- an additional excess levy that voters will be asked to approve by special election on Nov. 9 -- on ambiguity surrounding the purpose of the money raised.
County school officials were, by law, required to draw an outline of what the money would be used for -- $24.4 million the first year it would take effect, in fiscal year 2014-2015 -- but opponents say that doesn't provide enough detail.
Uses for the money outlined by the school system include nearly $8.5 million for school technology, $7 million for adult and technical education upgrades, and a little more than $1 million for extra-curricular and athletic supplements, among other things.
Around $3.2 million would also benefit the public library, which lost a large portion of its public funding earlier this year when the state Supreme Court ruled that the school system no longer has to provide the library with a large chunk of its funding.
Last week, the majority of the school board -- board members Bill Raglin, Becky Jordon, Robin Rector and Jim Crawford -- came out publicly in favor of the proposed tax.
Officials supporting the library system, including its board of directors, also announced their support of the excess levy.
And a new group composed of community members and business leaders, called the KEY (Kids Education Yes) Committee, was formed to support the passage of the tax.
This pitted the majority of the school board against school board president Pete Thaw, who voted against pursuing the new tax and has railed against the idea since it was proposed early this year.
He was also the most vocal advocate for the board's decision last year to put a flat cap on the amount of money the school system can receive from its property tax. By law, the system can ask voters to approve an excess levy that will collect as much in taxes as its regular levy does -- instead, the school system's next excess levy, which was approved by voters last year and will go into effect July 1, 2014, is capped at a flat rate.The board made that move in the name of tax relief for the public, but now they're returning to voters, asking them to uncap the levy. On Nov. 9 voters will be able to weigh in on a proposed second excess levy that would generate $24.4 million the first year it took effect, in fiscal year 2014-15.