The Feb. 8 special election is just around the corner, and the Enumclaw area only has one measure to vote on — Proposition No. 1, the Enumclaw School District’s replacement Educational Programs and Operations levy.
If passed, the levy will help the district fund various programs and positions not covered by the state’s 2017 Basic Education Funding Act, the district has said.
“The EP&O levy funding is needed to pay for eligible educational programs and operations not fully funded by the state’s prototypical funding model, including counselors, nurses and health room professionals, safety and security, custodians, librarians, para-educators, certificated staff, early learning services, special education services, transportation, social and mental health services, fine arts, athletics, co-curricular programs and the maintenance of playgrounds, playfields, and other facilities,” ESD’s Public Information Officer Jessica McCartney wrote in an email.
This is not a new levy — voters approved an EP&O levy in February 2018, but that levy expires this year, hence the need for the district to place it again on the current ballot.
Alone, the replacement EP&O will account for $1.77 of the overall tax rate per $1,000 in assessed property value in 2023; $1.71 in 2024, $1.67 in 2025; and finally, $1.65 in 2026.
The overall tax rate (which includes the EP&O levy as well as the 2015 voter-approved bond and 2020 voter-approved technology levy) in 2023 is expected to be $2.87 per $1,000 in assessed value; $2.75 in 2024; $2.67 in 2025; and $2.62 in 2026.
This translates to homeowners, with property valued at $500,000, being taxed between roughly $1,300 to $1,400 each year for the next four years.
All together, the overall levy rate will provide the Enumclaw School District with around $13.6 million in 2023; $14.6 million in 2024; $15.7 in 2025; and $16.8 million in 2026, for a grand total of around $61 million over the next four years.
FACT CHECK: SPENDING INCREASES
According to the official opposition statement against the levy, written by local resident Ted DeVol, “Enumclaw School District’s spending has risen over 50 percent in 5 years.”
DeVol also claimed the district has 50 percent more money than it had five years ago.
Both claims are exaggerated, and in general, they would be more accurate if they compared the district’s financials over six years or more.
According to the district’s financial statements, ESD’s total revenue and expenditures were about $47.2 million for the 2015-2016 school year.
The 2020-2021 financial statement shows total revenue was about $63.1 million (a 33.6 percent increase), and expenditures about $63.8 million (a 35 percent increase).
Jumping a year ahead and comparing 2016-2017 and 2021-2022 shows a larger increase, but still doesn’t meet that 50 percent benchmark.
The district had $49.1 million in revenue and $48.9 in expenditures in 2016-2017, compared to an expected $67.7 million in revenue and $69.1 million in expenditures in 2021-2022 (ESD’s Director of Business and Operations Kyle Fletcher said the district’s numbers are “not the ‘actual’ revenues/expenditures, which typically come in lower on both sides” when the financial statement is prepared every November).
This shows an expected 37.8 percent increase in revenue and a 41 percent increase in expenditures over this five year period.
“My assumption is that by the end of this fiscal year, our actual numbers would tell us that the overall increases in revenues/expenditures would be less than these,” Fletcher said.
It should be noted comparing 2015-2016 finances to 2021-2022 (a six-year period) shows a 43 percent increase in revenue and 46 percent increase in expenditures.
DeVol also claims that “this new additional levy will increase the replacement EP&O levy amount 51 percent in 5 years.” While the EP&O levy is a replacement levy, and not an additional levy, the claim is accurate — according to Fletcher, the Enumclaw School District expects to collect roughly $9.6 million in levy taxes in 2022, and projects that will increase to about $14.5 million in 2026, a 51 percent increase.
The Courier-Herald reached out to DeVol for comment; he said he went over his claims with Fletcher earlier in the year.
King County Elections does not fact check candidate and measure statements.