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White River announces plans for replacement levy

What once was called a maintenance and operation levy will now be known as a replacement levy for schools, staff and operations, and the White River School District plans to put its version before voters Feb. 9.

The White River School Board approved the four-year replacement levy for the February ballot at a rate less than the current levy that will soon expire. The replacement levy is exactly that. It replaces the current levy that expires in 2010 and covers what it specifies – staff, operations and programs. It makes up about 22 percent of the district’s annual budget.

The district will ask voters to approve $8.2 million for collection in 2011, with an increase of $200,000 each year, based on a 2 percent increase in assessed valuation, through 2014. A tax of approximately $3.12 per $1,000 dollars of assessed valuation.

According to district business manager Mona Moan and Superintendent Tom Lockyer, the decision was based on the unpredictability of the state equalization fees and assessed valuation.

The district can only collect the dollar amount it requests, for example, in the first year $8.2 million.

The $3.12 is an estimate based on assessed valuation, it can be a little more or a little less depending on assessments that year. If assessed valuations climb, then taxpayers will pay less.

In 2010, it’s last collection year on the current levy, the district is banking on $711,000 in levy equalization money from the state, which lowers the cost for taxpayers. However, the state could make changes in the future.

“We hope the Legislature won’t take away the levy equalization,” said Moan, but in case it happens the district is planning ahead.

A combination of that levy equalization money and increases in assessed valuation estimates should keep the 2010 rate under $3, even though voters approved it at $3.49, but those numbers won’t be definite until January.

“I think it’s great we’re going down,” Board President Denise Vogel said.

Enumclaw

The Enumclaw School Board was expected to make the move to place its four-year replacement maintenance and operation levy on the February ballot at its regular meeting Monday night.

Enumclaw will be asking voters to approve collection of $9.2 million in 2011, with a final collection of $10.3 million in 2014 at a rate of $3.05 per $1,000 assessed valuation.

According to Director of Business and Operations Randy Stocker, the levy figures through the past 12 years demonstrate a flat line. In 2002, he noted, voters approved $3.14 per $1,000.

In 2006, voters approved $2.96 per $1,000. The $3.05 per $1,000 is approximately 3 percent less than voters approved in 2002 and approximately 3 percent more than voters approved in 2006.

The levy makes up 18 to 20 percent of the district’s budget and, as the name implies, pays for staffing, maintenance and operations.

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