A comparison of how the Enumclaw School District’s last Maintenance and Operations levy affected taxpayers, and how the replacement levy on the Feb. 13 special election ballot will impact local residents. Image courtesy of the Enumclaw School District

A comparison of how the Enumclaw School District’s last Maintenance and Operations levy affected taxpayers, and how the replacement levy on the Feb. 13 special election ballot will impact local residents. Image courtesy of the Enumclaw School District

Local school districts hoping voters will choose to extend levies

With the state’s new “levy swap,” levies for the Enumclaw, White River, Sumner-Bonney Lake and Dieringer school districts will amount to less than what they have in the past.

Ballots were received throughout four area school districts last week and voters have until Feb. 13 to determine if they will continue their support of local educational efforts.

Reaching out to the public are the Sumner-Bonney Lake, Enumclaw, White River and Dieringer districts.

Things have changed dramatically in the world of public education recently, with court-ordered efforts by the state Legislature to adequately fund K-12 learning. The days of the traditional maintenance and operation levy are gone; the new state-mandated term is “educational programs and operations.”

Either way, the effort is the same: school districts are seeking money for efforts that go above and beyond the state’s definition of basic education. As before, levies are not for new construction. The local requests would cover things like safety and security improvements, certain special education programs, athletics and activities, teacher training, early-learning opportunities and transportation that is not already covered by the state.

Because the state has stepped up its funding formula, school districts are dropping the amounts being sought in the upcoming levy requests. Here’s where things stand with the local districts.


In February 2014, local voters approved a four-year maintenance and operations levy at a rate up to $3.89 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This time around, the district is seeking approval of a four-year levy that carries a rate of $1.50.

Passage would mean about $6.3 million to the district during the first year of collections, topping out at an estimated $9.6 million during the fourth year.

For the owner of property valued at $300,000, the annual tax bill for the expiring M&O levy is $1,167. With the lower rate of $1.50, the annual bill would be $450.


White River voters approved a four-year M&O levy in 2013 that carries a rate of $3.45 per $1,000 of assessed value. District boosters point to the new rate of $1.50 – if the Feb. 13 levy is passed – and the decreased tax collections.

For the owner of a $300,000 property, the current tax amount is $1,035 annually. Like everywhere else, that would drop to $450 per year.

White River is different from others in that voters are being asked to also approve a “capital” levy. This would support technology improvements along with a handful of projects like improved parking at ElkRidge Elementary, replacement of the maintenance building at Glacier Middle School and added classrooms at the elementary level.

Also on the list is a new roof at White River High. The district points out that the roof is failing and causing leaks.

In the end, according to the district website, the combined rate – factoring in both bond and levy – will decrease from $5.88 per $1,000 of assessed value to a projected $4.77.


Voters here also will be deciding a pair of ballot measures: the educational programs and operations levy and a technology improvements levy.

Both are billed as replacements for levies passed four years ago.

This time, the programs and operation levy is a two-year request. The district website says it looks to collect $20 million in the first year and another $24 million in year two, but actual collection expectations are below $14 million both years, Communications Director Elle Warmuth said in a previous interview.

Like everywhere else, the levy is capped at a rate of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value, meaning an annual tax bill of $450.

Supports note the current request carries a rate of about $1.81 less than is now being collected.

The technology levy is a six-year request that would add, on average, 47 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. That equates to $141 annually on property valued at $300,000.


In the Dieringer district, voters will decide the fate of two levy proposals. The first is a programs and operation levy, the other a technology levy. Both replace current levies that were previously approved by district voters and, in each case, tax rates would remain essentially the same.

The program and operation levy now in place pays for approximately 30 percent of the district budget. In 2018, the district anticipates collecting $7.325 million through the levy that expires with the end of the year.

If the Feb. 13 levy is approved, collections are pegged at $6.65 million in 2019 and $7.25 million in 2020.

The district’s technology levy is a four-year proposal that aims to collect $1.725 million annually. The rate would begin at 86 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value and drop slightly the following three years.

Supporters of the technology levy say property owners “will not see a noticeable change” from existing tax bills.

More in News

Briley Conant, second from the left, and Zach Pederson, far right, ask other Sumner high schoolers to link arms in a show of unity and support for each other and other students around the nation. Photo by Ray Still
Unity, ‘radical civility’ preached at walkout

Sumner High School joined thousands of other students in a nation-wide walkout last week.

Buckley double homicide suspect charged

Jared P. T. Standley, 21, was charged with killing his parents in Buckley last week.

Podcast, scholarship created in memory of two sons

The Babst Memorial Scholarship, in memory of Garrett and J.T. Babst, will go to an Auburn Mountainview High School student to support their decision to go into trade school.

Modern lights aim to tame 410 traffic

Rush hour traffic between Enumclaw and Buckley is a drag. But a DOT project to modernize Buckley’s traffic lights could make smooth sailing of future trips.

County planning to finish Enumclaw trail, build bridge over White River

$2.8 million was allotted in the state legislature’s capital budget this year to jumpstart the project, which is expected to be compete between 2020 and 2021.

Reality House invites parents of teenagers

The Rainier Foothills Wellness Foundation is hoping to educate parents about about how to talk to their kids about the dangers of alcohol and drugs.

Despite the threat of rain and wind, hundreds turned out at Allan Yorke Park and lit candles in memory of the deceased. Photo by Ray Still
Plateau community honors two who died in avalanche

Hundreds of friends and family members attended the police procession and candlelight vigil last week for James Larsen and Zach Roundtree.

Local skater gearing up for Worlds, next Winter Olympics

Corinne Stoddard is expected to make it big in the world inline speed skating championship games later this summer.

Most Read