Community, Government, Latest News, Monongalia County

All four existing levies make it to ballot for May primary

The Monongalia County Commission voted on Wednesday to place renewal of the four existing excess levies on the May primary ballot.

Passed in November 2016, the five-year levies funding public transit, parks/trails, volunteer fire departments and public libraries will expire on June 30, 2021.

If passed in May, the levies would be extended for four years. It was explained that moving the vote from the general election to the primary election would give the agencies an additional six months to plan and prepare before the existing levies end.

By putting the levies at four years going forward, it syncs them with the normal election cycle.

“We had discussions about how the timing of this will help us continue in the flow of our budget. This wouldn’t take place, this actual levy assessment wouldn’t take place until the current levy expires,” Mountain Line General Manager Dave Bruffy said.

The commission heard from representatives of three of the levies on Wednesday, including Ella Belling, executive director of Mon River Trails Conservancy, who thanked the commission for putting the levy — which provides funding for multiple agencies, including BOPARC and the county park system — back on the ballot.

“We certainly see these as essential, special places in our community that help our health and our growth and economic development that comes from being able to market to businesses all of our opportunities,” she said.

The levies to be on the May ballot include:

Transit: If passed, rates for the levy would remain unchanged at 2.2 cents per $100 assessed value on Class II (residential) property and 4.4 cents per $100 on Class III and IV (commercial).

The levy will generate approximately $1,994,843 annually, for a four-year total of $7,979,372.

Parks/Trails: If passed, rates would remain unchanged at 1.16 cents on Class II and 2.32 cents on Class III and IV.

The levy would generate $4,207,312 over four years, or $1,051,828 annually.

Volunteer Fire: If passed, rates would actually drop in the first year of the new levy, from the current rates of .84 (II) and 1.68 (III and IV) to .76 and 1.52.

Those rates will climb slightly in years two, three and four, capping out at .41 and 1.64, which will still be lower than the existing rates.

The levy is anticipated to raise $689,129 in the first year and a four-year total of $2,865,324.

Library: If passed, rates would remain unchanged.

The levy is expected to raise about $489,644 annually, for a four-year total of $1,958,576, at rates of 0.54 cents on $100 at Class II and 1.08 cents at Class III and IV.

In other commission news, the county is switching its Internet and Ethernet provider from Frontier to DQE Communications.

Commissioner Sean Sikora said the switch will save the county money — just under $10,000 annually — and provide greater bandwidth capacity.

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