The ballots are out for the Feb. 9 special election benefiting local schools. Eight school districts across Thurston County are depending on voters to approve tax levies on homes and land to keep their operations going.
The levy requests are for North Thurston, Olympia, Tumwater, Yelm, Tenino, Rainier, Rochester and Griffin school districts. All are replacements for expiring tax levies.
Few taxes rile voters as much as a property tax bill. These come due twice a year like a fat balloon payment. But it’s the tax system we have until the Legislature takes responsibility for fully funding basic education and relieving the burden of school levies, which now may not occur until 2017 at the earliest. Any implementation of reforms would come later.
As four-year levies, they are a hedge against legislative inaction; actual collections can be reduced if the state ever takes over full funding of teacher salaries and basic education costs.
The result is that these local taxes, collected on property, are vital to continuing the quality of education that Thurston County has provided its students. They make up roughly 20 percent of most South Sound school district budgets – more than that in some districts, less in others.
That is why today we make an unabashed appeal to Thurston County voters. Please support your local K-12 school levy.
Voting yes on levies ensures that local schools don’t have to start cutting staff just at the point where class sizes are supposed to being shrinking meaningfully in the lower grades.
If you’re mad at how your legislators are handling this, hold them accountable this fall.
But vote for your levy. South Sound’s students are relying on you.
THE LEVY REQUESTS
Griffin: 4-year, $9.15 million maintenance and operations levy. Some of that is used to send high school-age kids from the K-8 district to neighboring districts. Homeowner cost: $2.19-$2.33 per $1,000 of assessed property each year through 2020.
North Thurston: 4-year, $163.5 million M&O levy. Homeowner cost: $3.57-$3.66 per $1,000 of assessed property through 2020.
Olympia: 4-year, $106.8 million M&O levy. Homeowner cost: $3.06-$3.12 per $1,000 of property each year through 2020.
Rainier: 4-year, $6.76 million M&O levy. Homeowner cost: $3.66-$3.77 per $1,000 of property each year through 2020.
Rochester: 4-year, $16.3 million M&O levy. Homeowner cost: $3.89 per $1,000 through 2020. Passage would qualify the district for nearly $1 million more in state levy equalization funds due to the low tax base.
Tenino: 4-year, about $12.14 million M&O. Homeowner cost: $3.23-$3.32 per $1,000 each year through 2020. Passage would qualify the district for roughly $250,000 in state levy equalization funds.
Tumwater: 4-year, $64.96 million M&O levy. Homeowner cost: $3.35-$3.45 per $1,000 each year through 2020.
Yelm: 4-year, $45.9 million M&O levy. Homeowner cost: $3.94-$4.01 per $1,000 each year through 2020. Passage qualifies the district for about $3 million in levy equalization funds.