NEW CUMBERLAND - Despite a low turnout, New Cumberland voters gave the Park Board excess levy the margin of victory it needed to pass in Saturday's special election.
The levy was renewed for another four years by a vote of 71-7 - well over the 60 percent margin of victory required by West Virginia law, City Clerk Tammy Jenkins said.
Park Board President John Everly said he was glad to hear of the levy's overwhelming passage. "It shows people want (the park system)," he said. "It is a big asset to the community. The school system and recreation opportunities are the two top priorities people look at when they move into the community."
Everly thanked the voters who made the effort to vote on a cold Saturday in January, in a special election with only one item on the ballot.
An estimated 8.6 percent of the city's electorate cast their ballots - despite the fact that early voting started on Jan. 4. Polls at New Cumberland Municipal Building were open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The levy passed in Ward 2 by a vote of 44-6; in Ward 1, it passed 27-1, Jenkins said.
Everly said the levy's passage means the Park Board will have the revenue necessary to maintain and make improvements to the city parks for another four years. The current levy expires on June 30, the end of the fiscal year. The new levy takes effect July 1 and continues through June 30, 2018.
The levy generates an estimated $42,000 a year toward the Park Board's budget, making it the biggest source of revenue for a park system that includes New Cumberland City Park, the New Cumberland Community Center, the Eden Valley complex - tennis courts, basketball court and baseball/softball field - and the South Chester Street playground.
Everly said upcoming improvements include replacing the swing set at Washington and North Chester streets, installing better lights at the Eden Valley complex and finishing the kitchen in the basement of the Community Center.
Voters thought they had renewed the levy in the May 2013 municipal election but learned later that the margin of victory (120-93) was not sufficiently high. State law requires municipal excess levies to pass by a 60 percent margin, and Saturday's margin of victory was 91 percent.
The excess levy is collected at a rate of 12.5 cents per $100 of assessed value of owner-occupied property and 25 cents per $100 of assessed value of Class 4 property, including cars, boats and rentals, according to the West Virginia State Auditor's Office.
Saturday's election results are considered unofficial until Friday's canvass. The results will be certified on Jan. 28, Jenkins said.