Tahoma levies passing on election night

The voters have spoken and after months of campaigning the Tahoma School District’s two proposed levies are passing.

According to initial election results, available by Tuesday night, about 30 percent of voters turned out to vote on the levies. The levies are passing by over 50 percent each. Levy measures need a basic majority to pass.

Tahoma proposed two levy measures on the February special election ballot, the only ballot initiative for Maple Valley and Tahoma School District voters.

One of the two levies is a four-year Education Programs and Operations levy (EP&O). The EP&O levy will replace an expiring two-year levy, approved by voters in 2018. It will provide funds for educational services, staffing and supplies that are underfunded, or not funded at all, by the state. The EP&O levy was passing with 4,843 votes, or 55.77 percent, by 8:30 p.m. on election night.

The second proposed levy is a technology levy, which will fill the gap left after a previous technology levy measure failed in 2018. The levy is based on the technology plan the district formed and approved in early October, which gives a list of needs and wants for the district. The Technology levy was passing by 4,791 votes, or 55.13 percent, on election night.

According to the district’s levy resolution, the tax rate for the tech levy will be $0.45 per $1,000 of taxable home value starting in the first year, 2020, and by 2024 the levy rate will drop to $0.38 per $1,000 taxable home value. For a median-priced home in Maple Valley, at $473,700, the taxes would start at $227.38 a year.

Both rates for the levy are estimates, which are based on the total assessed property value for the entire school district.

Tahoma School District Spokesperson Kevin Patterson was at Tuesday night’s regular Tahoma School District Directors meeting when the results came in. District leaders and residents in attendance applauded the victory.

“We feel good about that, we are in the mid-50s so the chances of us passing when all the votes are counted are very good,” Patterson said. “When it was announced there was applause in the room. The school board members were very happy to hear the results.”

Patterson said the district wasn’t sure if the levies would pass but were optimistic. But as Election Day grew closer more support started coming in.

“You really never know until the votes are counted but in the end, people’s questions were answered and the message got through,” he said.

The first step the district is taking after its success is to purchase new laptops and computers for students in the district. At Tuesday night’s meeting, district leaders approved a resolution to use some monies from the fund balance to purchase new equipment. Patterson said the technology levy will help ease the financial burden of these decisions.

“We are just really appreciative, and welcomed by the people who work and volunteer here,” Patterson said. “I think it shows how this community values education, and we are deeply grateful for that.”