Boone County schools need money from state to finish budget year

By Jeff Jenkins in News
MADISON, W.Va. — The Boone County school system wants to make sure it can pay its bills for the remainder of the fiscal year. Working with Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, the system is seeking $2.1 million from the state legislature.

The governor added the request to his special session agenda Wednesday.

Superintendent John Hudson says the county has been hit hard by the Alpha Natural Resources bankruptcy.
The Boone County system has lost $9.3 million in property tax revenue in recent months because of the collapse of the coal industry, mainly linked to the bankruptcy filing of Alpha Natural Resources, which owns several large mining operations in Boone County. The company doesn’t have to pay the taxes while it’s reorganizing.

The emergency budget funding is critical for Boone County schools to get through June, according to county school superintendent John Hudson

“We just need to make sure we are solid for our system to get through fiscal year 16, which includes our invoices or any type of payroll,” Hudson said.

A provision in state code allows school systems to receive supplemental appropriations in a case where that county isn’t able to collect property taxes because of court proceedings.

Boone County cut its school system budget by $2.6 million heading into the current budget year because of coal’s downturn, Hudson said, but it wasn’t enough.

“We felt pretty good about what we’ve done and then we closed three schools, (eliminated) 80 some positions and cut many other things for next year,” Hudson said. The system’s 2017 budget includes $6.6 million in cuts.

When coal was booming, Boone County would routinely provide $58 million a year to the state’s general revenue fund. Now the county needs some help, Hudson said.

“Many times Boone County has helped many districts throughout West Virginia and this time we just need some assistance,” Hudson said.