School board giving back by way of tax break in Ohio County

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School board giving back by way of tax break in Ohio County

OHIO COUNTY, W.Va. -- Neighbors in Ohio County will soon see a break in their property taxes.

The board of education voted Tuesday morning to cut taxes by 2 percent for the first time in 18 years, but it wasn't without opposition. Some say Ohio County Schools will take a hit from funding improvements, but others say they could afford to give the taxpayers a break with the boost from the oil and gas industry.

"We have enough money; the tax break was there to thank the tax payers,” Ohio County Board of Education President Shane Mallett said. “If you get too greedy, taxpayers may not approve your levies in the future, and we've never had a problem here in Ohio county like surrounding counties, and we're very lucky.”

Mallet says the board was almost split during the vote Tuesday.

Christine Carder and Sarah Koegler voiced their concerns about projects that they say need completed and money is needed for those projects, but Mallett says he isn't concerned.

"We have had an increase of $6 million dollars over the past 4 years that I’ve been on the board, and it's time to give a little of that back,” Mallett said. “Do we need the money? Absolutely. We have costs from personnel, school buses, to crayons that we have to purchase for kids."

The increase has been from the oil and gas industry. The value of property in the area has gone up, but right now, Mallett says they're ahead of the game.

“It keeps getting bigger, eventually it will plateau,” Mallett said. “When that its, we don’t know. It’s usually at the end of a 3-year cycle. We anticipate an increase next year and then after that it will probably plateau off.”

He also says they are making improvements to Ritchie School and hope to be able to give a raise to staff members this year with that cash.

"The budget has not been firmly set, but we are hoping to give all employees a $1,000 raise in Ohio County,” Mallett said.

That budget is expected to be approved in May.

Every county in West Virginia met Tuesday to go over their school levies. They will go into effect this summer.