School districts will forgo voter-approved levy hikes
Spokane County voters approved inflated school district levies in February because the Washington Legislature was still in session and had threatened to stop subsidizing property-poor districts due to budget shortfalls.
Those inflated levy amounts came with a caveat, though: If the state came through with the funds, districts would not collect the extra money.
And now that the state delivered the money, school district officials in the region appear to be keeping their word. Spokane Public Schools, Central Valley, East Valley, West Valley and Mead school district board members are planning to collect levy amounts equal to last year.
Rates per $1,000 of assessed value will go up slightly, however, because property values in Spokane County have declined between 2 percent and 4 percent, said Assessor Vicki Horton.
For example, in 2012 homeowners living within Spokane Public Schools’ district paid $3.94 per $1,000 assessed value for the levy.
That amounted to about $61.9 million in total taxes.
The district’s administration is recommending on Wednesday that its board approve the collection of approximately the same amount, which is about $10 million less than voters approved.
But because property values dropped, the rate will be an estimated $4.06 per $1,000 assessed value, said Mark Anderson, Spokane Public Schools associate superintendent.
The other districts’ estimated tax rates all went up for the same reason, school officials said.
The “Spokane community is so supportive of educating our young people they were willing to take a risk approving a higher levy to keep the level of education where it was at,” Anderson said. “We are glad the Legislature came through and we are not having to collect as much as the voters approved.”