The school board agreed to that cap last year, but has since found itself heading toward a financial deficit. The school board members who are in favor of the levy - that's all four board members, but not board president Pete Thaw, who is campaigning against the levy in the name of lower taxes for the public - say another excess levy is the only way the school system will find financial security.
"If we want to move forward with technology it costs, there's no getting around that," said superintendent Ron Duerring, one of those who attended the meeting with Daily Mail editorial board members.
"If we want to expand community and technical education to meet the growing needs and demands of the future, it costs. And maintaining our buildings and giving our kids the athletics and the extracurriculars costs."
Over the last several years, Duerring said, the school system has cut 11 administrators from the central office, increased the student-teacher ratio, reduced maintenance overtime by 50 percent and increased preschool enrollment - all cost-saving measures. But to grow the school system's benefits, he said, a greater investment by voters is necessary.
"If your perspective is that you want to grow your community to make sure that your community has learners, students and employees that are job ready, then you don't want us to stay at the status quo," said board member Robin Rector, another of those who spoke to the editorial board. "In our best interests, we're telling you that this is what we need."
On the library's end, the new tax would simply restore its operating budget to the level it was at last year, before a state Supreme Court decision ruled that the law requiring that the school system help fund the county library system was unconstitutional - stripping the library of 40 percent of its operating budget, about $3 million.
Without that money, library board president Mike Albert said the library system would have to make permanent some of the cost-saving measures already instituted, namely personnel cuts and reductions in operating hours, and institute more dire cuts as well.
Alber told the editorial board that citizens could expect to see more than 6 branches shut their doors if the excess levy is not approved.
"That's not just a scary story, it's what we would actually need to do," he said.
"It would just stave off what we view as a crisis situation, really . . . If we don't get this funding then we have to decide in a long-term situation what cuts we need to make."
None of the funds generated through the new tax would benefit the library's campaign for a new building, which has been put on hold.
Some of the money from the new excess levy would also benefit the county's two libraries that are not part of the Kanawha County Library system: the South Charleston Public Library and Nitro Public Library.
South Charleston would get about $227,000 the first year the tax is in effect. Nitro would get $51,000.
A community group, the Kids Education Yes (KEY) Committee, was formed last month to campaign for the excess levy's passage. Another of those who attended Tuesday's session, Tom Heywood, board president for The Library Foundation of Kanawha County, said that the group's biggest challenge in coming weeks is articulating the group's message to voters.
"If your perspective is just to keep taxes low it's an easy message," Heywood said. "In these times people feel a certain economic vulnerability or uncertainty . . . so our challenge is to make our case that the best path forward is to make wise investments, and these are wise investments."
Early voting begins October 26 and runs through Nov. 6. Voters can cast their ballot at the Kanawha County courthouse.
Daily Mail editorial board members including editor and publisher Brad McElhinny, editorial page editor Kelly Merritt and editorial writer and columnist Don Surber attended the session on the levy, which was conducted in a conference room at the main Kanawha County Library.
The purpose was to learn more about the proposal in preparation for an official newspaper editorial page position on the levy.
Contact writer Shay Maunz at shay.ma...@dailymail.com or 304-348-4886.