NEW CUMBERLAND — The Hancock County Board of Education approved a motion at their meeting Monday to place an excess levy for 2009 to 2013 on November’s ballot.
The levy, which is voted on every five years, is currently collected at a 90 percent rate, but voters will decide whether to approve the levy at a rate of 100 percent. Superintendent Suzan Smith said that with the exception of the last ten or so years, the levy has always previously been collected at the higher rate and that the school system’s financial situation has made the increase necessary “in order to keep afloat.”
“It’s very obvious what the reasons are,” said Smith, naming the decrease in the county’s tax base, as well as the increase in the cost of fuel, which affects the cost of everything else.
“It is imperative that everyone understands (the levy) is a large part of our budget,” said board president Ron Daugherty, adding the school system cannot operate effectively without it.
“I know everyone is affected by the price of fuel,” Daugherty continued. “All of these costs affect the school system...Every program we have is affected.”
Daugherty said the schools have always had the support of the community, which the board “deeply appreciates...I certainly hope we continue to get that support.”
The board also heard from financial director Joe Campinelli, who reported that the school system has not gone over its fuel budget for this year, despite earlier concerns that the rising cost of diesel would create such a situation.
“We’re pretty much right to the penny on it,” Campinelli said.
Campinelli said that the cost of diesel fuel stayed consistent long enough for the district to fill its three tanks one last time, enough to get them through the end of this school year.
One of the tanks, located in Weirton, is now empty, as well as one of the two tanks at Oak Glen, and will need to be filled to prevent algae from growing in them, which can happen as a result of condensation. Campinelli said the tanks will be filled at the beginning of July, when the new budget takes effect.
Campinelli said that $400,000 has been allocated for fuel for the coming year, an increase of about $30,000 from this year’s budget. “We’re probably going to have to look at putting in another $30,000 to $50,000,” to account for the continued rise in fuel costs, Campinelli said, adding that such a determination will be made in July once they have had the opportunity to see just how much costs have gone up.