Amee Blake – Monongalia County Fair
Ethan Moore – Clay District Fair
Morgantown Public Library System Levy:
Lyndell Millecchia – Library Board President
Parks, Trails, and Recreation Levy:
Ella Belling – Citizens for Parks and Trails
Youth Baseball/Softball and Botanic Garden Levy:
Bader Giggenbach – Vice President of Operations for the Morgantown Baseball Association
Bill Johnson – President of West Virginia Botanic Garden
Fire Protection Levy:
Sandra Christopher – Monongalia County Volunteer Fire Companies Association Secretary Monongalia County Urban Mass Transportation Authority Levy:
David Bruffy – General Manager of the Mountain Line Transit Authority
Monongalia County Commission: “Invited by the League, and attending with the blessings of the Commission to answer generic questions.”
Eldon Callen – President
Videos produced by West TV at the April 20, 2016 Levy Forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters Morgantown-Monongalia County.
Press Release from the League of Women Voters of Morgantown-Monongalia County
April 7, 2016
The League of Women Voters is sponsoring three forums in April. On Wednesday, April 13 a candidate forum for candidates running for Circuit Judge, Magistrate, and Conservation District Supervisor will be held at South Middle School from 7 to 9 pm.
On Wednesday, April 20, a forum with a panel discussing the six levies which will be on the ballot will be held at South Middle School from 7 to 9 pm.
On Wednesday, April 27, a candidate forum for candidates running for the House of Delegates and the State Senate, as well as those running for Sheriff and Prosecuting Attorney, will be held at South Middle School from 7 to 9 pm.
The public is encouraged to come and ask questions and inform themselves before the election on May 10.
The first candidate forum will be held Wednesday, April 13, 7-9 p.m. at South Middle School (500 E. Parkway Drive). For the first time, all judicial elections are now non-partisan, and will be decided during the primary.Many positions, which are by division, are contested. In the 17th Judicial Circuit Court, two candidates are running against Judge Susan Tucker and two candidates are running against Judge Philip Gaujot. Incumbents in three of the four Magistrate divisions are opposed.There is no contest for the Family Court Judges. The Board of Education is also decided during the primary, but this year the two positions are not contested (both incumbents are assured of election). The position of Conservation District Supervisor is contested. We have invited all the candidates for the contested seats to participate in the forum, and unopposed candidates have been invited to briefly introduce themselves. Bring your questions to be read by the moderator, and enjoy refreshments and conversation with the candidates after the forum.
State and County Candidates
The second candidate forum will be held Wednesday, April 27, 7-9 p.m. at South Middle School. We have invited candidates for all the contested positions: WV State Senate (District 13), WV House of Delegates (Districts 49 and 51), Sheriff of Monongalia County, and Prosecuting Attorney. Unopposed candidates have been invited to introduce themselves. There will be refreshments and time after the forum to talk with the candidates.
COUNTY LEVIES FORUM
Sandwiched between the Candidate Forums, we will hold a forum concerning the six County Levies that will be on the ballot at the May Primary, May 10. The forum will also be held at South Middle School, on Wednesday, April 20, 7-9 p.m. Details of the six levies can be found in this newsletter. Representatives of each of the Levy groups are invited to make presentations at the forum, and answer questions from the public about the need for the specific levy. There will be refreshments and tables with information and displays about the levies.
OUR CHILDREN, OUR FUTURE
Saturday, April 22, 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. OCOF Policy Summit and Annual Retreat at Pierpont Community and Technical College in Fairmont. Register for free at http://bit.ly/1TfAm7f .
Learn, discuss, and debate about the policies proposed for the Commitment to OCOF: our long-term legislative platform.
VOTE – on which policies will be included in the Commitment
Design the OCOF strategy for the year
VOTE – for our 2016/2017 steering committee
Get involved in initiatives like Student Chapters, Leadership and Organizing Trainings, Shared Use & Voter Engagement
Lunch will be provided
About Our Children, Our Future:
Thirty percent (30%) of West Virginia boys and girls under age 6 live in poverty. Our state also has the highest rate of 16-24 year-olds who are neither in school, nor in the labor force. Research in brain development shows that social, emotional and cognitive development is shaped in early childhood and has a lifelong effect. Poor kids are 5 times more likely to have children outside marriage, twice as likely to be arrested, and nearly 3 times as likely to have severe health problems. Poor kids also end up earning incomes less than half those of their counterparts. Our prison population has tripled in the last 20 years, and we spend $23,000+ on each inmate – roughly the cost of providing full-time quality child care to 5 young kids. Taking care of our most vulnerable children is not only the right thing to do; it is the best way to help our state’s health, welfare, and economy in the long run. To do this, OCOF is building an organized, statewide voice of kids, families, and allies to advocate for the changes we need.
On January 4, 2016, the Morgantown City Council unanimously declared 2016 to be the Year to Go Green: Path to a Cleaner Morgantown. The Year to Go Green (YTGG) was initially proposed by the Morgantown Municipal Green Team and Friends of Decker’s Creek. The Year to Go Green provides a framework within which a wide range of individuals, households, businesses, community groups, city committees and advisory boards, and other organizations can take action toward a cleaner Morgantown.
What is the Year to Go Green?
This yearlong citywide focus on clean air—clean water—clean energy—green space was created with the goals of:
Opening dialogue across the community
Unifying efforts toward environmental sustainability in the Morgantown area
Promote money-saving investments in sustainability
Encourage involvement of the wider Morgantown community
Six Levy Proposals for Consideration in the May 10 Primary Election
The League of Women Voters of Morgantown/Monongalia County has attempted to aggregate all levy information into one document to help voters make a more informed decision about whether to support them.
First: What are the various classes of property?
Class 1 is personal property used in agriculture.
Class 2 is anything that is owner occupied, generally the person’s main house property.
Class 3 and 4 are the same class definition (anything other than owner occupied). So it includes all vehicles, boats, RVs (anything taxed on your personal property tax ticket) and vacant lots or pieces of land, rental property, and business property. The number 3 is used to designate those defined properties that are outside any municipality boundary. The number 4 is used to designate those defined properties that are within a municipality boundary.
Second: What will each levy cost?
*Cents per $100 of assessed value
Most voters will probably be concerned with the rates each levy will assess on Class 2 property (owner occupied). The table above shows the cost IN CENTS per $100 of assessed value for each levy. (example: if the homeowner—Class 2—has a home assessed at $100,000, the cost of the VFD levy would be $8.40 per year) The cost of passing all levies for that homeowner would be $49.60 per year which would be added to their real estate tax statement.
According to the County Clerk’s office, it is important to understand that the levy rate applies to every tax ticket a person receives. For example: a person may receive two tax statements per year - one on their car and one on their house. Each levy would apply class 3(4) rate to the value of the vehicle and class 2 rate to the value of the house parcel.
So, to estimate the cost of a levy to an individual or family, you must know the assessed value of your home (if you own it) and the assessed value of your personal property. If the personal property for a Morgantown resident is assessed at $5000, the cost of passing all the levies would be approximately $5 per year. Add that to the cost of passing all levies when your house is assessed at $100,000, the total cost would be $49.60 + $5.00. (Remember, this is just an example, not a guarantee of the cost to you.)
Third: Description of each levy proposal and the impacts of passing or failing each levy.
Fairs: For the owner of the home assessed at $100,000, this levy would cost about $1 per year. If passed, this would be a 5-year levy and it would raise about $50,000 per year for the Mon County Fair and $20,000 for the Clay District Fair and for the Battelle District Fair. The levy is limited to these Fairs because they are the only ones that are members of the WV Association of Fairs and Festivals. Levy funds will allow Mon County Fair to have more facilities built for the Livestock Show and update the existing structure so the facilities could be scheduled and used by any county individual or group. Representatives of both the Clay District Fair and the Battelle District Fair report that without the levy, they will not be able to make needed improvements and repairs to their facilities. The Fairs will be forced to downsize and may face having to close.
Fire: For the owner of the home assessed at $100,000, this levy would cost about $8.40 per year. Money raised during this 5-year levy would be split among the 12 VFDs in Mon County, providing approximately $50,000 for each department per year. Funding would be used for training, protective clothing, radios, and possibly to replace aging fire trucks. At last count, there were 20 trucks in use that were over 15 years old. The VFDs also have expenses averaging $28,500 just for insurance and worker’s compensation. From this levy, all VFDs would receive the same amount of funding so that smaller companies would be able to upgrade their equipment and recruiting. Additionally, funds would go to the county’s hazardous materials team, to the county’s brush fire team and to the Volunteer Fire Companies Association which maintains the county’s two tanker trucks.
Library: For the owner of the home assessed at $100,000, this levy would cost about $5.40 per year. This 5-year levy would provide funding for the entire library system, which includes the Morgantown Public Library as well as Cheat Lake Public Library, Arnettsville Public Library, Clay Battelle Public Library, Clinton District Public Library and the Aull Center. The Library System has been underfunded for several years, and this levy would allow them to be open more hours and to expand their programs. In the past, the County Commission has provided about 16% of the funds for the downtown library and about 30% for the branch libraries. Without the levy to replace these funds, there will be reduced hours at all facilities and possible closure of some, reduced materials and services and potential charges for meeting rooms and programs.
Parks and Trails: For the owner of the home assessed at $100,000, this levy would cost $11.60 per year. This 5-year levy would fund parks and recreation throughout Mon County. Plans include Morgantown Ice Arena additions, renovations, and upgrades; Camp Muffly operating expenses plus swimming pool, pool house and historical cabins; Chestnut Ridge Park operating expenses plus dredging of Harris Lake and improvements to the ski slope; Mason-Dixon Historical Park operating expenses plus upgrading playgrounds and hiking and mountain biking trails; Mon River and Deckers Creek Rail-Trails operating expenses and maintenance; Westover Park improvements to four baseball fields, bleachers and pavilions; Cheat Lake and/or Laurel Point soccer fields and equipment.
Mountain Line Transit: For the owner of the home assessed at $100,000, this levy would cost about $22 per year. Funds generated by this 5-year levy would partially be used to replace the $456,000 that has been provided by the County Commission from the coal severance revenue. That represents about 10% of Mountain Line’s operating budget. Additional money from the levy would replace federal funding which is also declining. Levy monies would allow for replacement of some buses plus allow for adding new service routes to Mylan Park, Suncrest Towne Center and other developing areas of the county. Without the levy, rural routes out in the county will be eliminated. Although routes which are financed by the City of Morgantown and by WVU will not be affected, failure of the levy will have an impact on everyone, as county residents will have a much harder time finding transportation into the city for work, healthcare, and shopping.
Baseball/Botanic Garden: For the owner of the home assessed at $100,000, this levy would cost about $1.20 per year. The Morgantown Pony Baseball League involves over 1000 young baseball players and is currently 100% funded by community and corporate sponsors. This 5-year levy would provide about $80,000 for maintenance and improvements to eight BOPARC baseball and softball diamonds in White, Krepps, Marilla, Valley View and Jack Roberts parks. The levy would also provide $25,000 annually for upkeep and improvements to the Botanic Garden. Since 2000, the Garden has grown to over 80 acres of beautifully maintained gardens and trails that provide enjoyment for anyone seeking a quite hike or organized activity. Levy funding would be used to pay a portion of the costs of keeping the Garden open to the public, at no charge, 365 days a year. These costs include utilities, insurance, supplies, staffing, maintaining the new public restrooms and Welcome Center, trails, plantings, etc. As the Garden grows, the operating costs also grow. The current budget is nearly double that of 2013, and while the City of Morgantown and County Commission have provided some funding, private contributions have covered most of the costs. The levy funds will provide a reliable base of support for the Garden.
A special meeting was held on February 29 by the Monongalia County Commission. On the agenda was the Youth Baseball and WV Botanic Garden Levy and the Fairs and Festivals Levy. After very interesting discussions each respective levy was approved, with the Youth Baseball and WV Botanic Garden Levy by a ruling. Now there are 6 levies on the May 10 Primary Ballot!
Levy Roster: Mountain Line Transit, Citizens for Parks and Trails, Monongalia County Volunteer Fireman’s Association, Morgantown Public Library, Youth Baseball & WV Botanic Garden Levy and Fairs and Festivals Levy
Here are the four videos that record the history leading up to the 4 levies for Monongalia County that will be on the Primary ballot this May 10. If you only have time to watch one video, the February 24 video covers a lot of the final details. You may download the correlating agendas at http://www.co.monongalia.l.wv.us/agendas.html
1. February 3 – public forum
2. February 10 – Mountain Line Transit
3. February 17 – Citizens for Parks and Trails
4. February 24 – Citizens for Parks and Trails – Revisions for Parks and Trails Levy as suggested by
State Auditor’s Office; Monongalia County Volunteer Fireman’s Association; Morgantown Public Library; Youth Baseball and Botanic Gardens Levy
Mountain Line Transit, Citizens for Parks and Trails, Monongalia County Volunteer Fireman’s Association, and Morgantown Public Library levies were approved by the county commissioners and will be on the ballot.
Tom Bloom summarized it this way, if all 4 levies pass, for a $100,000 house you are looking basically at the price of a soda per month. 100k house would roughly equal $28.44/year, $2.37/month, and $.08/day
You can call his home office in West Virginia at 304-342-5855 or Senator Manchin’s Washington, D.C. office at 202-224-3954. In addition, West Virginians with a 304 or 681 area code can contact Senator Manchin’s office through our toll-free number at 855-275-5737.
What Legislation? The U.S. Senate plans to vote this Wednesday, January 20th on H.R. 4038, “The American Security against Foreign Enemies (SAFE) Act,” which would grind to a halt the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. This bill was passed by the House of Representatives in November, so it is critical that it does not pass the Senate. Such proposals and the anti-refugee sentiment that has accompanied them are morally reprehensible and go against who we are as a nation. It is critical that Senators hear from their constituents NOW.
Urge Manchin to vote NO to H.R. 4038 and any legislation that would stop, pause or defund the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees.
Sample Script: “I am your constituent from WV, and I support the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees. I am opposed to any bill that would stop or pause the resettlement of refugees of any nationality or religion. I urge you to vote NO to H.R. 4038, The American SAFE Act.”
Below are some helpful points on the security checks involved in refugee resettlement, which is the focus of this legislation. The most important points to mention, however, are your story and why your community wants to welcome Syrian refugees.
The U.S. government handpicks the refugees who resettle here, and the U.S. resettlement process has the most rigorous screening process in the world.
Refugees are the most thoroughly vetted people to come to the United States, undergoing interagency screenings by the Department of Homeland Security, FBI, Department of Defense, National Counter Terrorism Center and multiple intelligence agencies, including biometric checks, forensic document testing, medical tests and in-person interviews.
Continuing refugee resettlement while maintaining national security is not an either/or situation. The United States can continue to welcome refugees while also continuing to ensure national security. We can and must do both.
The League of Women Voters believes that immigration policies should promote reunification of immediate families; meet the economic, business and employment needs of the United States; and be responsive to those facing political persecution or humanitarian crises. Provision should also be made for qualified persons to enter the United States on student visas. All persons should receive fair treatment under the law.
The League supports federal immigration law that provides an efficient, expeditious system (with minimal or no backlogs) for legal entry of immigrants into the United States.
To complement these goals the League supports federal policies to improve economies, education, job opportunities and living conditions in nations with large emigrating populations.