Early voting is now open for the January 19 excess levy election in Upshur County.
Voters have the opportunity to continue a levy that has been in place since 1998. The current levy will expire in June of this year.
According to Upshur County Clerk Carol Smith’s office, early voters can go to the polls beginning today at the Upshur County Courthouse from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Jan. 16. This also includes two Saturdays; Jan. 5 and 12. Hours for Saturday voting are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 19 to accommodate voters.
School levies and school bonds differ in nature as bonds are for new school construction and major facility renovations. Levies, however, provide funds for direct learning for students such as arts and music.
Dr. Sara Stankus noted at an October meeting of Create Buckhannon that she had met with music and art teachers about drafting proposals on how to make those programs stronger.
The upcoming levy also includes provisions that will continue to allow students and senior citizens free admittance to school sponsored extra-curricular activities. Additionally, this levy will provide for free admittance to the same school sponsored extra-curricular activities to active duty military and veterans with passes available at board office.
The levy will also include, among many other benefits, school safety and security for a continued prevention resource officers in the school system. It also includes measures to upgrade doors, intercoms and other communication related equipment to further ensure student safety.
Other items include improving and updating school libraries, technology tools, facility and equipment maintenance, as well as free textbooks.
The levy makes up approximately 10 percent of the general budget for Upshur County Schools. According to officials, without those monies there would be a reduction in educational services and programs.
It should be noted the levy will not increase taxes on property owners because the levy rate will remain the same as the current levy. The current levy is the third lowest rate in the state for counties with levies. There are currently 41 counties in the state with a school levy.
The Homestead exemption does continue to apply for people 65 or older.
In early December of last year, the Buckhannon City Council passed a resolution endorsing the upcoming school levy election with Mayor David McCauly saying it was “just the thing to do.”