NO B & O TAX DOLLARS TO THE MILEGROUND
The B & O taxes on the construction contracts for Eastwood Elementary will be paid to the city of Morgantown and will amount to perhaps a few hundred thousand dollars. The county school district (Mon Schools) would like to see these dollars spent on or around the impending Eastwood Mileground school site, as such B & O taxes have often been spent in the past, at or near the school building projects from which the taxes are drawn. However, this time the school building situation is radically different. No B & O taxes should be spent anywhere at or near the Eastwood Mileground site:
- First, it is not proper to do so. In formal letter to Mon Schools, the City Council opposed closing Woodburn and contributing to “sprawl” with a new school facility. The county schools acted counter to the city on this, in both instances (in voting to close Woodburn and in voting against locating a school next to Mountaineer Middle). So now with Eastwood on the Mileground the city has more commuter-strangling sprawl, no future school in Woodburn or in walking location to anyone in the city, and a new patch of destroyed green space.
- Second, the Eastwood site sits at the very edge of the city where the city has zero or virtually zero interests that are not properly funded under the jurisdiction of Mon Schools and/or the WV DOT’s Division of Highways (or, for that matter, WVU, which owns the surrounding lands and which refused Mon Schools the higher quality site up across route 705). Even the adjacent armory site which the city will acquire in a year or two from the Army will be sold, or if the city retains ownership of it, will require city funds to develop.
- Third, it is not accurate to claim, as was claimed in a recent City Council meeting, that the city B&O taxes related to Mountaineer Middle were spent on a road there (actually a school drive) that ostensibly benefits the city. It doesn’t. The drive is of no use to anyone who isn’t attending a school function. (There is a small apartment building just inside of the drive entrance that might now or at some point house city residents but if so those residents do not use the vast majority of what is essentially a school drive, just its brief access point. School traffic accounts for either the overwhelming or the total amount of traffic on that road. It’s of no use to the city and never will be.)
- Fourth, any agreement in general or “in perpetuity” that would obligate city B&O funds to be spent at or near county school projects is wrong. That would in effect be a blind abdication of city funds to county decision-making, even, as in the case of Eastwood, where the county deliberately contravenes the city’s wishes and values.
- Fifth, the city should use Eastwood-related B&O taxes to purchase and revitalize the old Woodburn schoolgrounds, which the county school district has let fall into serious disrepair. (It would be good if a switchback bicycle and walking trail would be built from the schoolgrounds directly down the hill through the virtually adjacent undeveloped section of Whitmore Park and then over or across Route 7 to Marilla Park.)
Put it all together, and there is no justification for the city spending a dime of B&O taxes anywhere near the Eastwood Mileground site, let alone upon the site. And, also as noted, there are quite compelling reasons why the B&O taxes should be spent in the neighborhood of Woodburn, to revitalize the old schoolgrounds in a way that the county schools never did. The county schools opted to dispose of the Woodburn schoolgrounds. The city has a duty to obtain and to revitalize those grounds. That will take money, B&O money, to guard and to fix what the county is leaving in its extremely unfortunate wake.
Talk to most anyone about the Eastwood Mileground site and they will tell you what a horrible site it is for a school. It’s obvious. We’ve explained how terrible it is many times over. The city of Morgantown should do its duty and not enable Mon Schools in their failure to do theirs.
September 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm
The Morgantown City Council and City administration has a habit of doing the wrong thing and being spineless, and sometimes sneaky and manipulative, on groundbreaking issues. See this excellent post by Sam Wilkinson: “What Do They Think Is Going To Happen If Smoking Is Banned?“