CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Kanawha County's school and library systems are honing the message they will take to voters to try to convince them to sign off on a new property tax for their benefit.
The two public entities have been working for months to make sense of a tangled funding relationship that was effectively dismantled in February. That's when the state Supreme Court ruled a 1958 law forcing the school system to help fund the libraries is unconstitutional.
Since then, the library has been scrambling to come up with $3 million — nearly 40 percent of its operating budget — and the school officials have been struggling to decide whether the school system should continue to fund the library voluntarily, in light of its own budget issues — a projected budget deficit in the 2014-15 fiscal year.
They reached a compromise last month: the school system and library system will, together, ask the public to approve an additional excess levy in a special election on Nov. 9. If approved the new tax would generate about $24.4 million the first year it takes effect: $21 million for the school system and $3 million for the library in the 2014-15 fiscal year.
That's enough to keep the library afloat without any reduction in services and, education officials say, enough to help the school system grow over the next five years.
Now, they just have to get it passed.
To do that, the library and school systems are embarking on a campaign to lobby for the bill's passage, and to let the public know just what the organizations plan to do with the additional tax money.
Superintendent Ron Deurring pitched the school system's mission for the coming years and highlighted the initiatives the additional funding would benefit — he touted advances in adult and technical education, as well as advances in technology across the county, among other things.