Pocahontas County assessor Johnny Pritt addressed the Pocahontas County Board of Education at its meeting Monday evening with his concerns about Amendment 2, which is on the November 8 General Election ballot.
Pritt was asked to discuss the proposed amendment and to give his opinion on whether or not the county would benefit from its becoming law.
“It’s one of four amendments,” Pritt said. “The amendment provides the Legislature with the authority to exempt tangible machinery and equipment, personal property directly used in business activity and tangible inventory and personal property directly used in business activity and personal property tax on motor vehicles from ad valorem property tax from general law.”
If Amendment 2 is passed, the board of education and Pocahontas County Commission will lose roughly $1 million in funding from taxes.
“The board of education and the county is looking at about one $1.1; $1.2 million loss,” Pritt said. “The state Legislature – they’re saying they have the money now to make all the counties whole again. They have a big Rainy Day Fund, I guess. My concern is, what’s their plan when they no longer have that fund. How are they going to make us whole? How are we going to operate?”
Pritt said he has many concerns about passage of the amendment, stating that the Legislature has been vague about several aspects of the law.
“It may be good, but personally, I need more details,” he said. “What are you going to do when you don’t have that slush fund to make all the counties whole? Some of the senators are talking about some of our real estate assessments being too low – we need to raise them. They don’t know what they’re talking about. We can’t just raise stuff. If they’d talked to the assessors, they would have known that.”
Pritt added that he fears once the Rainy Day Fund is gone, the Legislature will require counties to request funding each year to replace the loss of tax money.
Without more information, Pritt said he believes the amendment would be detrimental to the county.
“I can’t support something unless I know all the details,” he said. “I think the key in all that is it gives them authority. They don’t have to do anything. So I can’t see them not exempting vehicles because they’re all going to get voted out next go round, but the way it’s worded, they don’t have to do anything.
“It takes the power from local government and puts it in Charleston,” he added.
The board discussed Amendment 2 and Amendment 4 further and thanked Pritt for his input.
Amendment 4 is a proposal which states that the rules and policies governed by the State Board of Education are subject to Legislative review, approval, amendment or rejection.
The board took a stance, stating that it is against both amendments and drafted a resolution on both Amendment 2 and 4.
During the informational reports and updates portion of the meeting, the board was addressed by student representative Haley Spencer, Marlinton Mayor Sam Felton, school nurse Jenny Friel and Lynne Bostic, Stephanie Burns, Cammy Kesteron and Rebecca Spencer.
An article about those reports will appear in next week’s edition of The Pocahontas Times.
In miscellaneous management, the board approved the following:
• For Kimberly Shinaberry and Melissa Jordan – third and fourth grade teachers at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School – to travel with their students by school bus for a day trip to Massanutten Water Park, Massanutten, Virginia, tentative date being May 19, 2023. Trip funded by classroom fundraisers and participants.
• Revised list of school based fundraisers for the 2022-2023 school year for Marlinton Middle School.
• Parent and community volunteers for the 2022-2023 school year.
In personnel management, the board approved the following:
• Unpaid medical leave of James D. Chestnut, as custodian III at Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, effective on or about October 12, for a period of up to 12 weeks, as needed.
• Unpaid medical leave of Stephanie M. Burns as teacher of English/language arts at Marlinton Middle School, retroactive to September 23, for a period of up to 12 weeks, as needed.
• Employment of Wendy Kirk Picarella, as itinerant teacher of art at Marlinton Middle School and Green Bank Elementary-Middle School, at state minimum salary, retroactive to September 28, for the remainder of the 2022-2023 school year. Term of employment is 164 days. Term of employment shall be 200 days each year thereafter.
• Requested transfer of Justin A. Taylor as mechanic for Pocahontas County Schools to chief mechanic for Pocahontas County Schools, at state minimum salary, retroactive to October 6, for the remainder of the 2022-2023 school year. Term of employment is 192 days. Term of employment shall be 261 days each year thereafter.
• Employment of Jonathan B. Perkins as substitute teacher for Pocahontas County Schools, at state basic pay, based on degree and experience, for the 2022-2023 school year, as needed.
The next board meeting will be a Local School Improvement Council meeting at Hillsboro Elementary School, Monday, November 7, at 3:30 p.m.