2018 Excess Levy - Q&A (updated as questions are presented)

 

What is the Kanawha County Schools Excess Levy?

The excess levy is a tax on personal and real property that is approved by the voters every five years. The current excess levy provides 19 percent of the school system’s current operating budget.

 

How long has the levy been in effect?

Citizens of Kanawha County have supported the excess levy since 1937.

 

What is the difference between a levy and a bond election?

The excess levy pays for current operating expenses, while a bond election provides funding for new buildings. The excess levy is a pay as you go tax, while bonds constitute money that is borrowed and paid back over time.

 

Is the 2018 levy a new tax?

No. The excess levy has been supported by Kanawha County citizens since 1937.

 

Is the 2018 levy a tax increase?

Yes, this levy would increase a taxpayer’s annual bill by $8.39 for every $10,000 of fair market value of their home and increase it by $1.68 for every $1,000 of fair market value of their vehicles. This increase is due

to the excess levy being capped for decades.

 

How will funds from the excess levy be spent? (1st year figures provided)

  • $39,504,000 will be spent for professional, service and substitute wages. The levy specifically funds custodians, counselors & art teachers in elementary schools that would not otherwise be funded.
  • $239,994 will be spent on safety & security improvements in schools across the district.
  • $18,577,687 will be spent on HVAC improvements at 15 schools with the greatest need.
  • $4,869,807 will be spent on roofing projects.
  • $1,648,512 will be spent on athletic turf installation at 7 of 8 high schools.

 

What will happen if the levy doesn’t pass?

Kanawha County Schools will lose almost one-fifth of its current operating budget — $44.2 million.

 

Is the excess levy unique to Kanawha County?

No. About 75% of the counties in West Virginia support their local school system through an excess levy.

 

When will the excess levy be on the ballot?

The excess levy will be on the ballot Tuesday, November 6, 2018.

 

How does the excess levy fit in to the current (2018-2019) expense fund budget?

 

How do our current & proposed excess levy rates compare to other WV counties?

 

Kanawha CURRENT rate   14.92

Boone County                        22.95

Cabell County                        22.95

Fayette County                      22.95

Putnam County                      22.95

 

Kanawha PROPOSED rate 21.91

Boone County                        22.95

Cabell County                        22.95

Fayette County                      22.95

Putnam County                      22.95

 

Will the HVAC funding completely fix the county’s HVAC issues?

  • The funding in this levy is not the only funding that will be dedicated to our HVAC systems. We also have funding built into our budget that will help with additional projects. This funding will help fix the projects that have been identified as having a need. With the age of our facilities, we do not know when an isolated break or problem will occur, but this funding would put the county miles ahead in our ability to both fix our systems and plan for the future.
  • Previous investment in HVACS - For the 10-year period of fiscal year 2007 through fiscal year 2017, Kanawha County Schools has made expenditures totaling over $45 million for improvements, renovations and conservation of energy from the general budget and levy funding with over 32 million going to HVAC. More information here.

Why is the taxpayer increase more than the last excess levy?

  • The Kanawha County Schools levy has been capped at a little more than 44 million for many years. While the facility needs of the district have been mounting, the funding has remained capped. We’ve managed to work on HVAC and roofing solutions at a small level, but we’re simply the largest district with a great amount of facility needs. Many excess levies across WV have been uncapped for years, and that is where we’d like to move for the betterment of this district.

Why can’t the money from iPads/bus WiFi be used to fund some of these projects?

  • The money used to purchase iPads and bus WiFi is money that must be used on technology. This funding cannot be used for HVAC or roofing improvements, or anything other than technology.

Are there pay increases for administrative staff included in the excess levy?

  • No, there are no pay increases or pay raises included in the excess levy for administrative staff or for anyone. 

Why is turf included in the excess levy?

  • Turf is being included to not only improve facilities for our Kanawha County Schools students in comparison to other districts across the state, but also to increase assessibility. Right now, many football fields do not allow other extra curricular groups onto the field due to possible destruction. With turf, there would be expanded access so that 100s, if not 1000s, more students (at the high school, feeder middle schools and youth leagues) could utilize the fields without the risk of destruction. 

If the excess levy in uncapped, can't you collect unlimited tax dollars?

  • No. The state constitution places a cap on the amount that can be collected in an excess levy. By running it uncapped, that simply means that we're going up to the state's cap. Remember the charts above -- 14.92 is the current capped excess levy rate for Kanawha County Schools and the rate in surrounding counties, 22.95, is the cap. 

Kanawha CURRENT rate   14.92

Boone County                        22.95

Cabell County                        22.95

Fayette County                      22.95

Putnam County                      22.95

 

Kanawha PROPOSED rate 21.91

Boone County                        22.95

Cabell County                        22.95

Fayette County                      22.95

Putnam County                      22.95

 

Why can't the district use carry over or "rainy day funds" to fund the needed HVAC and roofing projects?

 

  • The West Virginia Department of Education strongly recommends that every county in WV have a contigency fund equal to 3-5% of their total projected revenues. The Government Finance Officers' Association recommends a balance of at least 2 months of operating revenues or expenditures, which equates to approximately 16% of total projected revenue. This money should only be used for unforeseen or emergency situations that arise during the year. Thanks to strong financial management, KCS does have the required amount of carry over funds year to year and sometimes a little extra, however all of our carry over funding is allocated each year on district projects. Through the years, we have been able to dedicate carry over funding to HVAC, roofing and other maintenance projects, but not in the amount that is needed across the district.  

Is there a disproportionate amount of spending on salaries at the KCS Central Office?

  • Central Office salaries represented approximately 3.5% of the Current Expense Fund budget for FY18. This includes not only salaries for administrative functions at the superintendent level, but also salaries for functions including human resources, employee benefits, payroll processing, vendor payment processing, financial reporting, technology, student data collection, standardized student testing, and staff development activities. 
  • The average central office administrative salary for Kanawha County for FY18 was $85,889. This is substantially less than the following neighboring counties:  Jackson, $94,077; Putnam, $92,680; Fayette, $92,502; Cabell, $92,286. 

What are costs savings that staff at Central Office have created?

  • Kanawha County Schools has participated in the state P-Card program for several years and has appreciated a savings of $136,660 since FY13. Approximately 66% of that savings has been generated within the past two years as we work toward more widespread use of the P-Card program.
  • The KCS Purchasing Department has increased revenue from sale of surplus property by more than $80,000 in the past two years by utilizing an online governmental auction service.
  • Kanawha County Schools has implemented an electronic procurement system that will generate an average savings of 27% by enabling us to solicit formal bids on a nationwide network.
  • Our central office Technology Department has maximized funding from the federal E-rate program to provide state of the art technology to our schools and students. We received $1,630,111 in E-rate funding for the FY18 school year.
  • Since implementation of energy conservation management upgrades, Kanawha County Schools has seen a reduction in overall utility consumption. As of June 30, 2017, electricity consumption has realized a reduction of 14%, gas consumption has realized a reduction of 43%, and water consumption has realized a reduction of 25%.  This reduction in consumption has enabled us to achieve efficiencies despite rising utility rates such that our utility expenditures have not increased in proportion to the increase in utility rates.