Voters asked to approve levies next week

February’s special election is quickly approaching

The February special election is creeping up on voters as ballots arrive in the mail this week.

For Covington and Maple Valley voters, the only focus is on Kent and Tahoma school district levies, which aim to financially support each district’s operation costs and ongoing programs.

KENT’S LEVY MEASURES

Covington voters in the Kent School District will receive a ballot in the mail regarding the Kent School District’s Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy. Kent School District’s Proposition No. 1 will replace an expiring EP&O levy, which was approved in 2018, with a two-year levy. Similar levies have been supported by Kent School District voters for the last three decades, according to the district’s website.

The proposed renewal levy rate is $2.15 per $1,000 in assessed home valuation for two years. The max amount that can collected in 2021 is $69 million. The max amount that can be collected in 2022 is $76.2 million, according to a previous article in the Kent Reporter.

Taxpayers will pay a combined approximate tax rate of $3.83 for all district measures (for 2016 bond debt service and the 2018 Technology and Capital Levy) in 2021 and 2022 if the proposed renewal levy is approved. The owner of a home valued at $600,000 would pay $1,290 per year in 2021 and 2022, according to the district.

The school district does not collect more money if property values increase. The levy would raise a maximum of $145.25 million over two years.

Local funding provides about 11 percent of the district’s annual budget, according to the district website. The state provides about 79 percent and the federal government about 5 percent with the remaining from a variety of fees, grants and donations.

If approved by a majority of the voters, the funding would help pay for:

• Student safety and school security

• Career readiness programs including opportunities for exploration acceleration and remediation in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math (STEAM)

• Bullying prevention and social-emotional learning programs

• Educational support for students with special needs

• Daily operations to support clean, healthy, and well-maintained schools and classrooms

• Professional development for teachers, paraeducators, principals and educational support staff

• Essential staff such as classroom teachers, nurses, counselors, social workers, and bus drivers not fully funded by the state

TAHOMA LEVY MEASURES

Tahoma is proposing two levy measures — a four-year Education Programs and Operational Levy (EP&O) and a four-year technology levy. The resolutions for the levies were passed by the Tahoma Board of Directors during its regular meeting on Oct. 22.

If approved, the EP&O levy will replace an expiring two-year levy which was 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. If it is not approved, other school programs may be cut from the budget to free up monies for these “unfunded mandates.”

The EP&O levy tax rate would be $2.00 per $1,000 of taxable home value, according to the district’s resolution. So for a home valued at $473,700, the median home price of a house in Maple Valley according to Zillow.com, the tax would be $947.40 a year. The new tax rate, if approved, would not go into affect until the current EP&O levy expired. The EP&O levy would collect $17.4 million in 2021 and would increase to $22.3 million by 2024.

The technology levy would fill in a gap left after a previous technology levy measure failed in 2018. The levy is based on a technology plan the district formed and approved in early October, which gives a list of needs and wants for the district. Even with an estimated $16.8 million to be collected over four years if the technology levy passes, items from the original technology plan had to be cut.

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.

For more information on the levies, visit https://sites.google.com/tahomasd.us/tsdleviesinformation/home.

USE THE COUNTY’S TAXPAYER TOOL

Unsure how much you may spend on taxes if these levies are approved? Taxpayers can use the Taxpayer Transparency Tool to find out, released by the King County Assessor John Wilson in January.

The tool is a website that provides taxpayers an individualized accounting of where tax dollars go and an estimated cost of any proposed property tax measure up for vote. Residents in areas with property tax measures on the Feb. 11 ballot will be able to see how those measures will affect them.

The tool can be found at http://localscape.spatialest.com/#kingcountyassessor/Tax.


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