Enumclaw makes plans for February M and O levy

The Enumclaw School District is trying to jump-start its maintenance and operations levy effort, but King County is causing a bit of a problem.

Enumclaw’s four-year maintenance and operation levy expires in 2010 and district leaders will be asking voters to renew it in February. They are already making plans, but don’t have numbers to put before the public.

“We don’t know the rate yet,” Business Manager Randy Stocker told the school board during its Oct. 19 meeting. King County hasn’t released assessment information yet, and isn’t expected to do so for a few more weeks, he said.

“This is an economy not like one we’ve seen in our lifetime,” Superintendent Mike Nelson said.

Maintenance and operation levy collections begin with a base dollar amount that is tied to the assessed valuation of a home.

For example, in 2006 voters approved a levy to collect a little more than $7.7 million the first year and $8.9 million by the fourth year. To get to that number the district asked taxpayers to pay approximately $2.96 per $1,000 assessed property value; so, the owner of a $250,000 house paid $740 a year. That number can fluctuate depending on the number of taxpayers in the collection area and the assessed value of all property. The district is not allowed to collect more than the voters approve.

Leaders are expecting to present final numbers in the form of an official resolution during the board’s Nov. 23 meeting.

There was no question the district will run a maintenance and operation levy, as Enumclaw’s levy now makes up 18 to 19 percent of the district’s budget, about one-fifth of the operating fund..

Levy money pays part or all of the cost of supplies, materials, books, equipment, utilities, insurance, transportation, special education, technology, athletics, activities and more. Without the levy, staff and programs would be reduced or eliminated.

Running a four-year levy, instead of just a two-year version, provides the district with stability and saves on election costs and staff time, Nelson said.

February’s election will mark the first time the district will only need a simple majority to approve the levy. In the past, a supermajority, at least 60 percent, was required for passage.

In April 1998, Enumclaw passed its levy with 70 percent support. In March 2000, the levy was passed with a 62 percent showing. In 2002, the levy squeaked by with 60.56 percent approval. In 2006, the last time Enumclaw placed an M and O on the ballot, it passed with 62.52 percent.

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