LOGAN - The annual tax revenue numbers for the Logan County Board of Education were recently released, and they are down nearly $3 million from last year.
In fiscal year 2018-19, total tax revenues for Logan County Schools was $18,157,780.22, which was nearly $3 million less than the 2017-18 total of $21,016,783.88. The new number was, however, closer to the 2016-17 total of $18,757,970.55, which LCBOE Vice President Dr. Pat Joe White said was a result of a coal company paying owed back taxes.
During the regular session of the LCBOE on Tuesday, July 23, White raised concern with the new number because it is the lowest tax collection total of the past five years.
"I know we've had a lot of requests to do a lot of things, and we do have a lot of repairs that need to be done, but we're really going to have to look hard before we reach an agreement on what we're going to do, because these tax collections I don't really think that they will increase," White said. "I may be wrong, and I hope I am, but it was a very alarming bit of information when I looked over that information this evening."
Board member Barry Mullins responded with a gloomy outlook, saying that the demand for steam/thermal coal, which is mainly used for electricity production and is the primary kind of coal produced in the region, is declining while the demand for metallurgical coal, used in production of steel, is up.
LCBOE President Debbie Mendez said that each school in the county is going to have to begin assessing what they absolutely need, rather than what they want. She added that, in the future, the board members will begin taking trips to each of the schools to assess what they need.
Board member Jeremy Farley blamed the decrease in tax collections on lower property valuations in the county along with a decrease in student enrollment. He said the decrease in enrollment is due to a wide variety of factors, from families moving away to an increase in homeschooling and private school.
"This is not just a Logan County trend, this is a West Virginia trend," Farley said. "But as we've seen, we've had to be very careful about our budget situation, but those are two things that, as a board and as an administration, we've kept an eye on, because I want to be hopeful, but I don't have a lot of hope that next year we will have a higher student enrollment than we did this year or that we will collect taxes at a higher rate than what we did this year, so we have to look at that total picture and then try to make the decisions on how we're going to move forward as a board."
According to Assistant Superintendent Darlene Dingess-Adkins, Logan County Schools lost more than 200 enrolled students last year compared to the year before it.
Dylan Vidovich is a news reporter for HD Media. Contact him by phone at 304-896-5196.