School levies set to go before voters
Most every school official is wondering what will be the impact on levy elections from the first use of all mail-in ballots.
It doesn’t ease anyone’s nerves that the Tacoma School District watched as voters rejected a $300 million levy in February.
Spokane County districts have worked hard to remind voters that a levy is a renewal tax, not a new tax. People were also told that with levy equalization, something that affects lower-property-value areas like Spokane County, West Side taxes are shipped over here – but only if the levy passes.
What’s at stake?
School district three-year replacement levies make up on average between 15 percent and 20 percent of a school district’s budget. If the levies do not pass, school district budgets would be reduced, meaning reductions and cuts to school programs. For example, Central Valley would be required to cut its budget by $19 million per year if the levy does not meet the 60 percent supermajority vote needed to pass. Spokane Public Schools would lose almost $50 million annually.
Ballots go out Wednesday and must be returned by March 14.
Which school districts are asking for renewal levy and more?
Central Valley is asking voters to approve both a construction bond and a replacement of the maintenance and operations levy. The three-year levy would cost homeowners $3.50 per $1,000 assessed valuation. A $55.2 million construction bond would pay to remodel three aging district elementary schools and pay for two new school buildings in the eastern half of the district. The bond rate is $0.60 per $1,000.
Cheney School District is looking to pass its maintenance and operations levy along with a two-year transportation levy to replace aging buses that travel 500,000 miles each year. The operations levy will cost $3.47 per $1,000 accessed property value in 2007 and increase slightly the next two years. The transportation levy would cost $0.68 per $1,000 assessed value.
Mead School District is putting before its voters a levy renewal and a technology levy.
The maintenance and operations levy rate is $3.54 per $1,000 of assessed value, 35 cents less than the previous three-year levy. The technology levy rate is $0.30 per $1,000, which translates into $30 for a $100,000 home.
Nine Mile Falls School District is asking voters to approve a levy and a facility improvement bond. The levy rate is $3.57 per $1,000 value. The bond rate is $0.75 per $1,000.
Freeman voters will be asked to approve both a maintenance and operations levy and a technology levy. The measures would cost taxpayers $3.80 per $1,000 assessed valuation in 2007 with slight increases the next two years. The technology levy will cost $0.40 per $1,000 of property value.
West Valley voters will be asked to approve a three-year maintenance and operations levy and a technology levy. Both levies are replacements of expiring levies. The proposed maintenance and operations levy will provide about $6.7 million in 2007 and $7.1 million in 2009. The measures would cost the owner of a $100,000 home about $460 a year.
Which districts are asking for only a renewal levy?
Deer Park School District’s maintenance and operations three-year levy is $2.63 per $1,000 assessed value.
East Valley is seeking a replacement of its three-year maintenance and operations levy. Voters will be asked to approve a measure that would cost taxpayers $3.60 per $1,000 of assessed property value, down from the $3.71 approved in 2003. The levy could provide $6.08 million in 2007, $6.2 million in 2008 and $6.4 million in 2009.
Liberty School District’s three-year levy is $2.95 per $1,000 assessed value.
Medical Lake School District is asking voters to approve a three-year maintenance and operations levy at a rate of $1.75 per $1,000 of assessed value.
Spokane School District plans to raise nearly $50 million annually with a maintenance and operations levy. The renewal rate on the levy is $3.69 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2007 and moves to $3.75 by 2009. A homeowner with a $100,000 home would pay $369 in 2007, which is a bit less than under the current levy. That levy expires after 2006 with a rate of $3.86.