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Olympia sends levy to ballot

OLYMPIA - Olympia district voters will decide on a four-year, $25 million levy that would pay for construction projects and technology upkeep on the February ballot.

Olympia is the fourth Thurston County school district to schedule a measure in the Feb. 9 special election. North Thurston, Tumwater and Tenino have also placed maintenance and operations levies on the Feb. 9 ballot.

The Griffin, Rainier and Rochester school boards are expected to decide by Wednesday on their maintenance and operations levies.

While Olympia will ask its voters to approve a four-year construction and technology levy, other districts will seek approval for maintenance and operations levies, which pay for items such as teachers, support staff, supplies, facilities, special programs, transportation, and athletics and activities.

District officials and board members say the tight economy has been a factor in deliberations of how much to ask their voters to approve.

“With all things considered, there’s no way we can ask for more money in this economy,” said Tenino Superintendent Russ Pickett.

Tumwater board president Jay Wood said it was important for his district to consider what voters were likely to approve, because the district is bracing for expected statewide cuts to the K-12 system.

“For the property taxpayers, we’re going to hold the line here and be more conservative,” Wood said. “I feel like the state should step up to the plate. They’d like to see more and more of the burden to the local taxpayers. I object to that.”

OLYMPIA

Collections from Olympia’s levy would range from $9.8 million and $10 million in 2011 and 2012, to pay for both construction projects and technology, and $2.3 million in both 2012 and 2013 for technology.

District officials plan to apply $15.5 million collected in the first two years toward projects such as fixing Capital High School’s roof and improving the Roosevelt Elementary parking lot. The district would collect $9.7 million over the four years toward technology, including training for teachers.

The levy rate would be $1.22 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2011, $1.29 in 2012, 27 cents in 2013 and 26 cents in 2014. The cost for a $250,000 home would start at $305 in 2011, $322 in 2012, $67 in 2013 and $65 in 2014.

NORTH THURSTON

North Thurston will ask voters to approve a two-year levy that would collect $27.5 million in 2011 and $28.9 million in 2012. This would be an increase from the 2010 collection of $25.4 million. The levy rate for both years is expected to be about $2.55 per $1,000 of assessed value, which would cost the owner of a $250,000 home $637 per year.

However, many district taxpayers would see their tax bills decrease because of shrinking assessments, said district spokeswoman Courtney Schrieve.

“We are sensitive to people’s financial situations, but we want to supply kids with the same quality education that they’re used to,” she said.

TUMWATER

Tumwater will ask voters to approve a two-year levy that would collect $11.7 million in 2011 and $12.4 million in 2012. The first year would see a slight decrease from the 2010 tax collection, but the second year would see an increase. The levy rate for both years is expected to be about $2.43 per $1,000 of assessed value, which would cost the owner of a $250,000 home about $607 a year.

TENINO

Tenino will ask voters to approve a two-year levy that collects $2.75 million each of the two years. That levy amount is the same as the district will collect in 2010. The estimated rate is $2.91 per $1,000 of assessed value, or $727 for a $250,000 home.

Venice Buhain: 360-754-5445

vbuhain@theolympian.com

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