Monongalia County Commission Proposes to Cannibalize The Schools

NEW LAW REQUIRED: THE SCHOOL CANNIBALIZATION ACT

Brilliant. The roads are in bad shape, so Monongalia County Commissioner Bill Bartolo proposes robbing the schools to pay for the roads. Morgantown City Council Member Mike Fike thinks this is a wonderful idea!

Thankfully Morgantown Mayor Jenny Selin and City Council Member Bill Kawecki have some reservations and put forth decent alternatives.

Does it really need to be explained? Yes, the school system’s budget is growing due to some increased prosperity in the county, but that doesn’t mean the schools have extra money. After all, school enrollment is also growing, which is costly. On top of that, the school system has always been badly underfunded. The school budget should be growing even more than it is. Capping the school budget would be criminal. Even failing to seek to grow the school budget beyond its current growth is disgraceful. The schools need more money. So do the roads. Robbing Peter to pay Paul should not even be on the table.

Again – is explanation necesssary? If so, something is really wrong with the Monongalia County Commission. But that’s no surprise.

The road problem remains however. The state road infrastructure and road maintenance are massively underfunded. The state and its roads and waters and lands have been gutted and poisoned and broken down by the rich coal and resource extraction and chemical industries. Their ruining of the roads is the least of the damage. These industries do not remotely pay the amount of taxes needed and owed. It is well known, and widely known what needs to be done: tax these damaging industries more. Otherwise, to try to patch things over, everyone else is left to tinker around the edges, or worse: cannibalize.

You get the Third World roads that you poorly build and neglect. And then you get desperate cannibalistic ideas: wild proposals to rob Peter of his lifeblood to pay Paul a pittance compared to his needs.

It’s time to resoundingly flush the crap idea that is the County Commission’s School Cannibalization Act down the toilet. And that’s putting it politely.

The City of Morgantown continues to be remiss in not expanding its boundaries to grow not only with but ahead of urban development, thereby collecting badly needed B&O taxes and extending badly needed regulations and services. The smaller the boundaries of Morgantown, the more Third World it will remain.

Until the city doubles or triples or quadruples its area, it is going to continue to get hammered – by nature and by “development” chaos – as will the county.

 

The Dominion Post reports (2-8-14):

Bartolo: Tax excess proposed for road fund

Mayor says pooling resources would improve situation

BY BEN CONLEY The Dominion Post 

An idea floated during We d n e s d ay ’s Monongalia County Commission meeting regarding locally generated funding for general road maintenance and winter treatment received some feedback at Thursday night’s leadership forum.

On Wednesday, Commission President Bill Bartolo suggested that because the amount of money received by two types of entities — the county board of education (BOE) and the convention and visitor’s bureau — is limited only by the amount of taxes generated, a cap could be set and any taxes generated beyond that cap could be funneled into a road fund.

Bartolo said he’s not advocating cutting budgets, but using the increases generated by the county’s growth.

“Now the reason those two enter into it, and I think it is significant to look at, is because they’re going to increase,” he said. “We all know, if you give people more money, they’ll spend it … The problem with that is, is that the priority? Roads have been a nightmare for this community. Funding has been a nightmare. We’ve already been told by the state, we don’t have the money to fix the roads, so they’re looking towards the counties and cities in coming up with a funding mechanism.”

Bartolo said he also acknowledged that his idea would require legislative action, explaining, “if the legislature created it, they can change it.”

The state of the roads was not debated, but not everyone was sold on the idea of relieving the state of its responsibility.

“Passing it off to another entity is pretty much what the state has done to us,” Morgantown City Council Member Bill Kawecki said. “What we really need to do as a group is make our dissatisfaction well known to our legislature. Get our voice down there complaining what exactly needs done and tell them they need to pony up. That’s their responsibility.”

Bartolo and fellow Commissioner Tom Bloom said the frustration has been voiced in Charleston. Bloom, who likened potholes on W.Va. 73 to “the entrance to Middle Earth” went on to say that road problems seem to go beyond the state’s economic issues.

“In the past I felt there was a cooperation and I don’t know what has happened, but clearly, calling them, working with them is now one-sided. I believe that’s an area that has changed and we need to get that changed back,” Bloom said. “I don’t know if anyone else had this problem, but it’s very frustrating. It’s almost like they’re mad that we’re calling.”

Morgantown mayor and director of WVU Student Organization Services Jenny Selin suggested that better cooperation — purchasing salt and supplies together for better rates or sharing equipment — could improve the situation.

Morgantown City Council Member Mike Fike said he’s for cooperation, but abstract notions such as better cooperation tend to break down over time.

“I want to go back to [Bartolo’s] original proposal … I like that simply because it’s concrete. It’s something that we could see happening.”

The forum is a bimonthly gathering initiated by the county commission that brings together representatives of the county, area municipalities and entities such as WVU and the Morgantown Monongalia Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The next meeting is planning for April 3 in the second floor conference room of the sheriff ’s department building.

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