The Bellingham School District will ask voters to approve two replacement levies in February that will bring in about $32 million to $37 million a year through 2016.
The four-year measures are the maintenance and operations levy, and the technology levy. If approved by voters Feb. 14, they would replace levies of the same name that are expiring at the end of 2012.
The owner of a $250,000 home would pay on average about $8 more a month in property taxes, beginning in 2013, for both levies.
The Bellingham School Board approved the amount for the levies, and their length, at a meeting Thursday, Dec. 8.
The requests go before voters as the weak economy drags on and at a time when schools are leaning more on local dollars because of cuts in state and federal funding.
“We have great education in this district and it takes our levies to support that,” Superintendent Greg Baker said. “This is one of the harder times in our lives to be going out and asking for money.”
The levies would pay for nearly 25 percent of the cost of education — including teaching, athletics and transportation — in Bellingham schools, which have about 10,400 students, and for technology, which the state doesn’t fund.
Combined with payments for a 2006 bond, the estimated tax rate would be $3.90 per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value in 2013.
That means a person with a home assessed at $250,000 would pay about $975 in 2013.
Board member Steven Smith said what sold him on the technology levy is that the district is educating students for a global economy.
Technology is important in keeping “them competitive at the state level, at the national level, at the world level,” Smith said.
When voters approve a levy, they are approving the maximum amount of money a district can collect in property taxes from residents; the tax rate may fluctuate, but the bottom-line amount the district receives can’t be above what voters OK.
LEVIES AT A GLANCE
Here’s a quick look at the estimated tax rates property owners in the Bellingham School District would pay if voters on Feb. 14 approve two replacement levies — one for maintenance and operations, the other for technology.
The estimated rates below combine the proposed levies, as well as a 2006 bond. Tax rates for the bond range from 60 cents on the low end up to 91 cents.
2013: $3.90 per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value.
Additional information on the four-year levies is online at bellinghamschools.org/levyfacts.