Upshur’s economy boosts levy collections

The Inter-Mountain photo by Amanda Hayes Tanya Zickefoose, the West Virginia School Counselor of the Year, is a school counselor at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. She was described in her award nomination as kind, compassionate and loving to students and staff alike. ‘She always has the best interests of our students in mind as she meets individually with them throughout the day.’ Zickefoose also works with her colleague, Larry Lance, to plan career exploration events and weekly advisory lessons. ‘Ms. Zickefoose works to help students find balance between school work and their personal issues. She is always brainstorming ideas on how to improve our school, and pushes each of us to be better for our students and for each other. We are proud of her accomplishment as the West Virginia School Counselor of the Year.’ Pictured left to right, are superintendent Dr. Sara Stankus, assistant superintendent Dr. Debra Harrison, Zickefoose, board president Dr. Tammy Samples, board vice president Katie Loudin, board members Dr. Greenbrier Almond, Kristi Wilkerson and Alan Suder and student board representative Evan Trent.

BUCKHANNON — Higher assessed values in Upshur County have led to an extra $124,000 in expected revenue from the school’s excess levy.

Director of finance George Carver told the Upshur County Board of Education Tuesday that his office received the assessed values from Upshur County Assessor on March 1. Assessed values increased by about $34 million and increased for the second year in a row.

“That means there is new construction, new businesses, new things coming to our community so the assessed values are a signal of the strength of our local economy,” Carver said. “There have been many counties where assessed values have been in a state of decline for several years and of course that affects the services they are able to provide from those tax dollars.”

Because of that increase, the regular levy will increase by about $241,000 from last year’s schedule, according to Carver.

“That $241,000 will offset our state aid so we will see an almost identical decline in our state aid,” he said.

But the school system will see all of the extra revenue from the excess levy, estimated to be $124,000.

“We will see that money in our budget and it will be available for the items that were outlined in the levy,” he said. “We will use that for maintenance, instructional supplies and materials and all the things that were outlined in the levy.”

For the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020, the board voted to submit the levy rates as follows: $19.40 per $100 for Class 1 property, $38.80 per $100 for Class II and $77.60 per $100 for Class III and Class IV.

For the excess levy, the rates are $9.83 per $100 for Class I, $19.66 per $100 for Class II, $39.32 per $100 for Class III and Class IV. The current expense levy is projected to collect $6.5 million in net taxes while the excess levy is projected to collect $3.3 million.

Under state code guidelines, Tuesday’s meeting is recessed until the third Tuesday in April when the board will met again to officially lay the levy. A public hearing will be held at that meeting on April 16.

Following an executive session, board vice president Katie Loudin moved for the board to proceed to Level 3 in the matter of Furr vs. Upshur County Board of Education. This was seconded by board member Kristi Wilkerson and passed.

After a second executive session, Wilkerson moved, seconded by Loudin, to approve all personnel with the exception of Dan Hepler as extracurricular elementary chess coach at Buckhannon Academy for the remainder of the 2018-2019 school year effective March 13. A second motion to approve Hepler’s personnel item by itself died due to a lack of a second.

In other business, the board:

• voted to change Friday, March 15 from an Outside School Environment Day to an instructional day.

• approved an agreement with Robinson Family Chiropractic to perform bus operator physicals from April 1-Aug. 1, 2019. The cost per physical is $48. Bus operators may use other medical facilities if desired but their reimbursement from the board will be limited to the $48 bid price.

• Wilkerson mentioned during board member comments, “Thank you to the Upshur County community again for passing our levy. We have neighboring counties who have not been so successful in the last six months. We truly appreciate our citizens knowing the importance of education and doing this for our students.”

Loudin invited people to attend Social Justice Week activities at West Virginia Wesleyan College. In particular, criminal justice professor Travis Zimmerman will give an opioid lecture on Monday, March 22 at 7 p.m. in Hyma Auditorium. On Wednesday, March 22, at 6:30 p.m. in the social hall, a community dialogue will take place to discuss what can be done about the opioid epidemic.