New School Levies On Ballot

THURSDAY, OCT. 31, 1996

A pair of north Spokane County school districts are trying to stretch their property tax dollars.

Riverside School District has a $2.8 million construction bond on the Nov. 5 ballot.

Orchard Prairie School District is asking voters to approve a $44,000 general operations levy.

With voters leery of property taxes, administrators are keeping the proposals lean.

If approved, the Orchard Prairie levy will pay a $43,500 bill for high school students. The district doesn’t have a high school, and contracts with Mead, West Valley and other local districts to educate the older students.

All other education costs in Orchard Prairie are paid by the state.

If rejected, the district would have to pay the bill out of reserves. “We could do that for, oh, about one year,” said superintendent Bob McMillan.

Riverside voters rejected the bond issue in September. The bond would pay for a $4 million community center/gymnasium, athletic fields, Internet wiring and a bucket of small nuts and bolts improvements.

The second time around, superintendent Jerry Wilson decided to drain construction fund reserves and borrow $100,000 against the general fund to drop the bond issue price tag.

The strategy is a slight risk, Wilson says. “It’s a judgement call.”

The construction proposal, which includes $3.1 million from the state, would bump Riverside tax rates by 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or by $10 on a $100,000 home.

“We think it’s a good deal,” said Wilson.

The bond issue was on the September ballot as two separate proposals. One proposal got 51 percent yes votes, the second 53.7 percent. Sixty percent yes is required.

In spite of the smaller price tag, Wilson is worried.

“You know people who are associated with school are in favor it, but when you have a general election, 70 percent of the voters” don’t have kids in school, said Wilson.

, DataTimes

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