Board declines realty tax option

ROARING SPRING — The Spring Cove School Board opted Monday to not take its half of the local 1 percent realty transfer tax, leaving it all to the six municipalities within the district.

While the school district has a legal right to collect half of this tax, six of the nine board members voted not to claim the district’s share.

All of the local realty transfer tax will continue to be distributed to Martinsburg and Roaring Spring boroughs as well as North Woodbury, Freedom, Huston and Taylor townships.

Numerous township and borough representatives who attended the meeting Monday expressed relief at the board’s decision.

“We’re very happy with the outcome. Hopefully, they don’t do it next year,” said Mark Ayers, North Woodbury Township supervisor. “We’re very happy we don’t have to find another avenue for more money.”

Ayers estimated if the school district claimed its half, that it would’ve taken about 8 to 9 percent of the township’s budget.

Richard Brantner Jr., Martinsburg borough manager, said he was also pleased with the outcome. “It’s part of our revenue so it’s going to help balance our budget for next year,” he said of the realty transfer tax.

Spring Cove School Board members Amy Acker-Knisely, John Biddle, James Butler, Charles Gojmerac, Linda Smith and Troy Wright voted no to taking 0.5 percent of the tax while Floyd Deterline, Brian Gahagan and Jason Rhykerd voted yes.

“It was a tough decision, but I just thought that everyone’s under the gun with budgets. And I think I want to have a good working relationship with the boroughs and the townships,” said Acker-Knisely, the board’s vice president.

“I just don’t think it’s the right time right now,” she added. However, she pointed out that future boards will still be able to decide whether or not to take the district’s share of the realty transfer tax. “I think right now, I just want us all to work together because we’re all … under the thumb of the budget.”

Gahagan, the board’s president, said the school district board has a fiscal responsibility to collect its share of the tax as a way to raise money to address the budget deficit.

“Obviously, the timing was not outstanding,” Gahagan said, acknowledging that the municipalities are in the midst of their budgeting process. “This is something we could’ve done for years, and I just think as an elected school district (official), this is my job to try and find a way to close the budget deficit.”

If the board members voted to claim the 0.5 percent, the school district would’ve received an estimated additional $100,000 each year.

The board members also voted to rescind a previous motion to have Fairway Labs test about 20 water samples for lead at a rate of $15 per sample. The board passed a motion to use Mountain Research instead to test water samples at a rate of $10 per sample.

Mirror Staff Writer Shen Wu Tan is at 946-7457.