Action taken, relief in property taxes for landowners

SALINEVILLE — Southern Local landowners will see a slight decrease in their property taxes because of action taken at last week’s school board meeting.

The board voted to decrease the amount collected on a bond issue, from 3.1 mills to 2.7 mills starting in 2019, with the 0.4 decrease reducing property taxes by $12 a year for the owner of a $100,000 home.

The reduction was recommended by school treasurer Greg Sabbato, who said the bond issue –passed by voters in 1998 to fund construction of the new school complex — is generating more than is needed to make the annual bond payments because of the increase in property values in the district. Rather than transferring the excess money into another fund, the county auditor’s office suggested they reduce the millage, and so Sabbato recommended the board decrease the millage to the residents’ benefit.

Even with the reduction, Sabbato said the district is on schedule to pay off the bonds completely sometime in 2020 — five years ahead of schedule.

“The key thing is our values have gone up, which puts us in a position to pay it off early to the benefit of our taxpayers,” he said.

In other action, the board granted Sabbato a pay raise and a new five-year contract, which takes effect when his current contract expires next August.

Sabbato will receive a $10,000 pay raise immediately, increasing his annual salary to $90,000. Superintendent Tom Cunningham recommended the pay raise, saying it will bring Sabbato up to what other area school treasurers with his experience are earning. The new five-year contract does not include any further pay raises.

“Thank you for your confidence,” Sabbato said.

“Thanks for all you do,” replied board president Mike Abraham.

In other action, the board approved allowing the high school athletes to visit West Virginia University on Nov. 26. Superintendent Tom Cunningham explained this past summer the basketball coaches attended a coaching seminar at WVU and were invited back to watch a full practice of the WVU basketball team.

The board also granted maternity leave to elementary school teacher Allison Warner, hired Terry Vest as evening custodian at the high school, approved continuing contracts for cafeteria workers Gloria Hamilton, Wendy Ketchum and Brenda Stewart, and approved one-year contracts for cafeteria worker Monica Plunkett and bus driver Dara Redfern.

The board also named Kyler Woodward as assistant varsity girls basketball coach and contracted with Melissa DelBoccio as a tutor for one year. She is the wife of the junior/high school principal and already works as a teacher for the school district’s Shale Academy.