Two levies will go before Mount Baker School District voters in February — one a replacement measure to help pay for day-to-day operations and the other for projects that range from fixing leaky roofs to providing technology for students.
The school board decided Thursday, Dec. 8, to place both measures on the Feb. 14 ballot.
Combined with the last year of payments for a 1997 bond, the estimated tax rate would be $4.80 per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value in 2013, if voters approve the levies.
That means a person with a home assessed at $200,000 would pay about $960 in 2013. By comparison, the owner of the same home will pay an estimated $854 for 2012.
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.
Here’s a look at each proposed levy, what it would be used for, and the impact on property taxes.
The four-year levy for educational programs and operations would replace one expiring at the end of 2012. It would make up about 20 percent of the district’s general fund.
Expecting more cuts in state funding, school officials are asking voters to approve a higher replacement levy.
They’re referring to Gov. Chris Gregoire’s proposal in her supplemental budget to shorten the school year, and either reduce or eliminate levy equalization funding.
The latter is money that helps property-poor districts keep property taxes from being too high for their residents; Mount Baker received about $350,000 for that this school year.
As was the case with the previous levy, this one would pay for teaching, transportation, school supplies and athletics, among other needs.
It would raise an estimated $4.8 million in 2013 to $5.5 million in 2016.
Estimated tax rates would range from $3.31 per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value in 2013 to $3.74 in 2016.
If approved, the six-year facilities and technology levy would raise an estimated $250,000 for 2013, then $1.2 million annually until 2018.
The estimated tax rates would range from 17 cents per $1,000 of a home’s assessed value in 2013; 84 cents in the two years after, then drop to 82 cents for the remainder.
This levy would help pay for repairs of roofs and other maintenance needs, as well as technology for student learning.
“We have some leaking roofs that need to be replaced. Our community has invested in school facilities that we have to maintain,” said Karst Brandsma, interim superintendent for the school district.
It also would help provide for transportation — at 512 square miles, the school district is the state’s second largest geographically, school officials said, and as such it relies heavily on school buses for transportation.
If approved, the measure would take effect as a 1997 bond is paid off in 2013. About $1.30 per $1,000 of the projected tax rate in 2013 is for that bond.
“It allows you to do small projects,” Brandsma said of the levy, adding that it was a pay-as-you-go approach that, unlike a bond, wouldn’t require interest payments. “We’re getting more bang for the dollar.”
The levy also would allow the school district to continue qualifying for state timber revenues for capital projects.
Additional information on Mount Baker School District’s four-year educational programs and operations levy, as well as the six-year facilities and technology levy is at www.mtbaker.wednet.edu.
School officials also will hold a number of informational sessions after the first of the year.