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Granite Falls School Board sets supplemental levy for August 17 election

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Published on Thu, Aug 12, 2010
Read More Schools & Education

The Granite Falls School District Board of Directors is running a two-year supplemental levy on the August 17 ballot:
 
The supplemental Program and Operation Levy will provide funding for “day-to-day” expenses, such as textbooks, staff training to improve student learning, transportation, support staff, upkeep and maintenance to all facilities and grounds, special education, and utilities (heat, phones, lights, water).
 
The district cut approximately $1.3 million dollars last year and cut over $1 million dollars for the 2010/2011 school year due to funding cuts from the state, the requirement to increase the fund balance, and contractual obligations. The supplemental Program and Operation Levy will help the district retrieve approximately $550,000 the first year and $585,000 the second year.
 
The two-year supplemental levy will cost approximately 35 cents per thousand assessed valuation. That is approximately $87.00 on a home assessed at $250,000, or about $7.00 per month.
 
The state legislature approved a special bill for school districts to run a supplemental levy to help offset the state budget cuts to education the past two years. The district’s current levy is approximately 23% of our total budget. The new state law allows districts to ask for 28%. The additional 5% for the Granite Falls School District is approximately $550,000 the first year and $585,000 the second year.
 
·         The August 17 election is an all mail-in election. Ballots must be mailed on or before August 17.
 
·         Dollar breakdowns:
Year                       Levy Amount                     Cost Per/Thousand*    
2011                       $550,000                                              $0.35                                   
2012                       $585,000                                              $0.34                                   
*approximately
 
Superintendent Karen Koschak said, “This was a difficult decision to make. The Board certainly understands everyone is affected by the economic times and it is difficult to ask local taxpayers for more support. At the same time, the Board knows that by having this supplemental levy, we can retrieve over $1 million dollars and that would be a huge help. After a lot of discussion, the decision for the Board was easy – let the voters decide.”
 
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What is a levy?
The state does not fully fund basic education programs so school districts ask local voters to pick up the cost of education through “levies”. The supplemental Program and Operation Levy is used for daily operations of the school - for programs and services such as textbooks, staff training to improve student learning, transportation, support staff, upkeep and maintenance to all facilities and grounds, special education, and utilities (heat, phones, lights, water).
 
Is this an all mail-in election?
Yes. Every eligible voter will receive a ballot in the mail approximately August 1. You cannot vote at a polling precinct. You can vote and return your ballot via the mail as soon as you receive it, but all ballots must be postmarked on or before August 17, which is the official election date.
 
What will the supplemental levy pay for?
The supplemental Program and Operation Levy will pay for a portion of many programs and services which are not fully funded by the state. Examples include:
• Textbooks, library books, and classroom supplies
• Bus transportation
• Staff training to improve student learning
• Music and athletic equipment
• Support staff
• Special Education
• Large maintenance needs such as painting a school or a new roof
• Utilities (heat, lights)
• Upkeep and maintenance of all facilities and grounds
 
What will the supplemental levy cost?
Supplemental Program and Operation Levy
Year                       Levy Amount                     Cost Per/Thousand*    
2011                       $550,000                                              $0.35                                   
2012                       $585,000                                              $0.34                   
*approximately
 
Is the supplemental Program and Operation Levy a new tax?
Yes. This is not our regular levy that “rolls over” every four years; this is a two-year supplemental levy that will cost taxpayers approximately $87.00 on a home assessed at $250,000, or about $7.00 per month.
 
Why is a supplemental Program and Operation Levy necessary?            
Although the state requires the government to fund basic education, the state does not pay the full cost of education for our children. Examples are textbooks, support staff, maintenance of facilities and grounds and transportation costs within one mile of the schools. As a result, local taxpayers are asked to make up the difference between what the state pays for and the actual cost of education through “levies”. The District is facing over a $1 million dollar deficit for the 2010/2011 school year due to funding cuts from the state, the requirement to increase the fund balance, and contractual obligations. Last year we had to cut $1.3 million dollars. All school districts in the state are in the same position – trying to do the best we can with declining resources. The state legislature passed a special bill for school districts to run a “supplemental” levy to help offset the state budget cuts to education.
 
What is the difference between a levy and bond?
Levy and bond issues are very different from each other. Levies are to maintain current student programs and services, such as textbooks, support staff, or upkeep to facilities and grounds. The Program and Operation Levy funding is used for “day to day” expenses, much like your household budget for groceries. Levy funds cannot be used to build schools. Bond issues can only be used to build schools, purchase property or modernize existing schools. Like a home mortgage, bonds are paid over a long period of time, typically 20 years. Bond funds cannot be used for “day to day” expenses, such as buying textbooks.
 
Can senior citizens and disabled people qualify for school tax exemptions?
Yes, if you are 62 or older or disabled, you may qualify for partial or full exemptions from voter approved levy (and bond) issues, if your household income is limited. The application process is a simple, one page form - call the Snohomish County Auditor’s Office, 425.388.3433, for the application and qualification requirements.
 
Do my taxes decrease if more people move into the district?
Yes. As the population of Granite Falls increases, the cost of school taxes to each homeowner decreases. The amount collected cannot change, so as more people move into our area, costs are reduced for everyone. For example, if you need $10.00 and have 10 people, you would need $1.00 from each person. If you have 20 people, you would only need 50 cents from each person.
 
 
 
 
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