One More Chance to Speak Out on SKSD Levy Amount

The South Kitsap School District Board of Directors will hold a public hearing prior to voting tonight on a levy measure that would raise $70 million in property tax revenue for South Kitsap schools over the next four years. The meeting is at 6 p.m. at the district office 1962 Hoover Ave. SE.

The levy measure, to run Feb. 3, would replace the district’s current levy that expires at the end of 2009.

The board last Wednesday agreed to vote on a total levy amount that would factor in an 8 percent rate of inflation for the first year of the levy and 6 percent in subsequent years. The amount collected in the form of property taxes over four years would total $70 million, up from $67.6 million in an earlier proposal.

Terri Patton, assistant superintendent for business and support services, told the board the estimate would help the district weather continued economic turbulence that has been driving up costs for personnel, services and supplies, especially fuel for buses. Board members agreed.

Taxpayers would be charged an estimated $2.27 per $1,000 of assessed property value for 2010 and 2011. The estimated rate would be $2.28 per $1,000 for the last two years of the levy. The $67.6 million proposal would have collected an estimated $2.20 per $1,000 over four years. The current levy amount is $1.98 per $1,000.

What would the increased rate mean to property owners? Here’s an example (they ought to put this one on the WASL). The owner of a home valued at $250,000 currently pays $495 per year to local schools, or $41.25 per month. Under the lower levy option once being considered, the $67.6 million proposal, the annual amount would increase to $550 per year, or $45.83 per month. Under the $70 million proposal, the same homeowner would pay $567.50 per year for the first two years of the levy, and $570 per year for the last two years, at $47.30 and $47.50 per month respectively.

If you have anything to say about the levy, be there or be square. For more information on the levy, visit the district’s Web site.

12 thoughts on “One More Chance to Speak Out on SKSD Levy Amount

  1. An extra $70 to $80 a year so the School District can pay its bills and get the students where they need to go? That’s an easy yes vote. How much does the district’s school bus service save families in transportation costs? Quite a bit more than $70 to $80 a year.

    Contrary to what some of the self-appointed environmental watchdogs say, people, especially kids, are our greatest natural resource.

  2. Levy’s are supposed to go for special projects. What special projects are on the table? How about a new high school? Now thats a levy I can support. Should I just go to my boss and say by the way costs have gone up so pay me more? I think we should cut out the administrative cost, not teachers not programs. I will not support any new TAX unless it includes plans for a new high school!

  3. With all the numbers you usually include when reporting on school levies, please include the ONLY numbers that refer to the ONLY thing the voters actually approve — the levy dollar amounts in each of the four years of the proposed levy.

    Believe it or not, most people can add up those four figures and determine the total for the four years, if they really think the total is useful information.

    They cannot calculate each year’s proposed levy dollar amount when all you give them is the total for the four years, since each year’s total is different.

    But, you typically have included the total and not the annual amounts, just as you did at the beginning of this blog entry.

    And, so people can make a comparison between the last year of the current levy and the first year of the proposed levy, include the levy dollar amount for 2009 that was approved by the voters back in 2005: $14,302,084.

    The estimated tax rates cannot substitute for reporting the proposed levy dollar amounts, since they are merely estimates based on estimated changes in the total assessed property valuation during the four-year duration of the proposed levy.

    Report the one thing that is NOT AN ESTIMATE — the levy dollar amount for each year.

  4. Hopefully, the Port of Bremerton does not obligate SK citizens to another $2.5 Million in grant matching funds prior to the school levy vote.

  5. As Bob Meadows points out, the resolution the board will vote on tonight establishes the total levy amount to be collected in each of the four years. The amounts requested take into account that the district expects to receive an estimated $1 million per year in levy equalization funding from the state. Simply put – probably too simply for Mr. Meadows – that’s money given to districts to offset the effect of property values lower overall than those of more affluent districts throughout the state.

    School district officials estimate the levy rate, the amount collected per $1,000 of assessed property value, based on real estate trends and projections. Typically the district’s estimates are conservative, and the actual rate is lower than the estimate. But technically it could be higher. The rate is determined by the total value of properties within district boundaries. The greater the total aggregate property value, the lower the rate per $1,000 of assessed property value. In my experience, it appears school district officials discuss the estimated levy rate because it helps individual property owners understand how the levy is likely to affect their household budget.

    And just to repeat: The proposed levy will replace the district’s current maintenance and operations levy, which expires at the end of 2009. The levy, according to the district’s Web site, “funds the difference between state funding and what is needed for day-to-day operation of schools.” It does not cover capital facilities, such as a second high school. Such expenditures would have to be covered by a bond.

    The amounts to be collected are as follows:
    2010: $16.39 million
    2011: $16.88 million
    2012: $17.75 million
    2013: $19.00 million

    The amount approved by voters in 2005 to be collected in 2009 is $14.30 million.

  6. SKSD wants a 15% increase in funding from the levy the first year to end up with an almost 33% increase from 2005 amount in the 4th year? I wish my income could increase by that much over the same period. They, the board assumes they will get one million dollars for the equalization funding pot. What if they do not? Notice a minor hiccup in the economy recently? It is affecting even the State of Washington. As I see the numbers we are looking at a 30 cent increase per thousand dollars just to maintain the status quo and fix a roof that has been a problem for years and replace more computers. The only reason we have a 70 million dollar levy wish list is the 50% pass vote our elected leaders forced a vote on to the voters, leaving out the concern of the taxpayers. The vocal “support the schools at any cost” group will get their way and SKSD will become another bottomless pit for the taxpayers to empty their wallets into. A 6 to 8 percent inflation factor is the last straw. Where will that “extra” money go? If inflation is 3% in year 3, are they giving the taxpayer a refund? I doubt it. It will be spent on pet projects of SKSD. The voter and taxpayer needs to take a close look at this latest levy request from SKSD. The taxpayer and voter also needs to be ready for the requests for money from the fire district, EMS, Bethel Corridor, South Kitsap Parks, and others in 2009 and later.
    Maybe Congress can throw a few billion our way.
    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

  7. Come on Roger, it’s the price of a tank of gas for most people. I’m not saying support the schools at any cost, but I think that roof is a little embarrassing, don’t you? And money invested in technology. Maybe that means they’ll have to purchase less textbooks at some point? A paperless school district? The School Board has gone paperless, why not the whole district?

    A yes vote is a message that you care about education as much as it is a dollar amount. Other developed countries are kicking our butts in the field of education. Where’s the pride, Roger?

  8. Roger,

    Inflation factors have been substantially higher than 3% for fuel, retirement contributions, and maintenance costs.

    Diesel fuel averaged #3.09 per gallon in October of 2007 (last year). Today it averages $3.94. That is a 27.5% increase in just one year. That same fuel cost $2.60 a gallon in October of 2006. So in the last two years, diesel fuel for our school busses has increased in cost by more than 51%.

    SKSD estimated increases to retirement contribution costs to average 3%. They have increased approximately 5.7% each of the last two years. It will be even higher over the next several years, especially given the current market.

    SKSD has also lost levy equalization funds. So, where we used to get 2.3 million dollars in equalization, that will change to just over 1 million dollars. Just that difference accounts for a 1.3 million dollar difference.

    SKSD does not have any outstanding bonds. This means that any building or facility repairs and maintenance must come from levy funds (the state doesn’t provide funds for local buildings).

    We are facing a tough economy. No doubt. We have discussed both the needs of the community and the needs of our community schools. Our district outlines how we use every dollar of a levy request. Few districts in the state do that. Many districts just go out and ask voters to approve the levy lid amount and then plan their budgets around that maximum numer. SKSD does not set levy requests like that. We prioritize the needs so that we can ask for voter support with a clear and concise plan well below the levy lid.

    The SKSD Board of Directors are also on record as opposed to any increase in the levy lid by the state legislature.

    Strong communities invest in strong schools.

    Kathryn Simpson

  9. The SKSD has problems with the economy. Higher fuel costs, higher expenses for health care, and a bad roof. My costs have gone up too. Gas to commute to work has increased, health care costs rose over $1200 a year just for me, and I replaced a very old floor in my home. I budgeted for the floor, limit my driving, and live with the increase in health care costs. What is SKSD doing to live within its budget, plan for the future, and actually give the kids an education that is useful? Correct me if I am wrong but is this not the biggest most expensive levy SKSD has requested from the voters and taxpayers? Expect questions & expect doubt. If by some miracle the economy rebounds what will happen to all the “extra” funds that this huge levy has included?

    Roger Gay
    South Kitsap

  10. It’s not my place to answer your questions and I don’t have the answers, but Ms. Patton, Assistant Superintendent of Business & Finance for the SKSD should be able to. My guess is the “extras” go into a reserve fund to be used during economic downturns.

    You should ask questions, have doubts, expect increasing accountability. Technology makes compiling, reporting, and sharing that data quick and easy. How does this school district compare to others regarding levy rates? Does the same percentage of the budget go to salaries as other schools? What is the percentage of salaries expense that goes to classroom teachers, the administrators, or the classified employees? I read somewhere that the SKSD has approximately 750 certificated teachers and about 750 classified employees. Is that comparable to other school districts? Is it a good thing, a budget saver, or just the way it’s evolved? What are the standards and expectations of the classified employees working in the classroom with the students?

    Dr. Cheney said it’s incorrect how the State funds schools. The requirements were changed from in the seat to performance based, and the formula wasn’t changed along with it. There are some groups working on this issue, maybe have or are going to Olympia with the information and a plea for a more fair calculation for school funding. Dr. Cheney is the expert, you can trust what she says is accurate.

    You can do other things besides vote yes. You can call your local representative on this funding issue, you can go to the School Board minutes and look at the report if you haven’t. There’s a picture of that roof in there. You can set up a visit to a school or take a tour. Be reminded what all this talk and politics is about. The students.

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