News

Enumclaw School District asks voters to renew levies next month

By Kevin Hanson

Voters in the Enumclaw School District will soon be asked to decide the fate of a pair school levies – one of the basic “maintenance and operations” variety and another for technological enhancements.

In Enumclaw’s case, both levies are of the replacement variety and will be decided as part of the Feb. 11 election. Ballots will be in the mail later this month and must be postmarked by election day.

Both ballot measures require a simple majority for passage. Voters in Black Diamond will have a say in the Enumclaw levies.

Enumclaw’s operations levy is straightforward, with no surprises for anyone familiar with the way school districts operated in Washington state.

The bulk of the district’s funding comes from the state, collected in the form of property taxes, but districts also rely on local support.

The operations levy – most recently approved in February 2010 – has come to account for about 20 percent of the district’s overall budget.

Operations levy money is used for day-to-day operations within the district, specifically for things like utilities, transportation, special education, substitute teachers, athletics and activities, custodians, nurses and other specialists.

Everyone who owns taxable property within the district pays into the operations levy and, during the course of Enumclaw’s four year proposal, that would equate to more than $42 million.

The February ballot measure would be for collections in 2015 through 2018, starting with $10.1 million the first year and close to $10.8 million in year four.

Individual tax collections are based on property values and district taxpayers are now paying at a rate of $3.83 for every $1,000 of assessed property value.

If the operations levy is approved, the rate would jump slightly to an anticipated $3.89. That means an extra $15 per year for the owner of property — home and land — carrying an assessed value of $250,000.

The proposal for Enumclaw’s technology levy is a six year version of a tech levy first passed in February 2009.

The ballot presented to voters says the proposition “would authorize the district to acquire and install instructional technology equipment and infrastructure, provide related staff training and make other technology improvements and upgrades.”

This current request cannot be called a continuation levy because the earlier levy called for tax collections in 2010 through 2013.

If the technology levy passes in February, collections will be in 2015 through 2020. There will be no “tech levy” taxes collected in 2014.

The proposed rate is significantly lower than the rate approved in 2009. For the past four years, Enumclaw district property owners paid 39 cents per $1,000 of property value for technology. The current proposal calls for six years, each at 27 cents.

For more information, includinag a fact sheet regarding the levies, is available on the Enumclaw School District website at http://www.enumclaw.wednet.edu/calendar/NewsItem.aspx?id=599&pageIndex=0

Enumclaw Courier-Herald senior reporter Kevin Hanson can be reached at khanson@courierherald.com.

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