2018 Levy


Frequently Asked Questions


What is an Educational Programs and Operation Levy?

The Replacement Educational Programs and Operation Levy is a local property tax authorized by voters to be used for educational and operational expenses of the school district that are beyond what is funded by the state and federal governments.
 

What is funded by an Educational Programs and Operation Levy?

The Replacement Educational Programs and Operation Levy will be used to maintain current programs and fund what the state does not consider “Basic Education”. Many programs we offer and the community expects are not technically considered “Basic Education” by the state of Washington. Our levies have supported and will continue to support the following:

  • Building and Grounds – custodial, maintenance, and grounds personnel; materials and supplies; energy costs.
  • Special Programs – field trips, para-educators, administration, teaching staff in art, music, PE, electives and counseling.
  • Co-Curricular and Extracurricular – drama, FFA, FBLA, knowledge bowl, robotics, athletics, cheerleading, etc.
  • Curriculum and Technology – curriculum materials (i.e. ELA and Math adoption), technology and devices for staff and students, technology staffing.


Why is this called a “Replacement Educational Programs and Operation Levy”?


The ballot measure is titled a “replacement” levy because this is not a new tax request. Instead, this measure is asking voters to continue the two-year Maintenance and Operations Levy they approved in 2016. The passage of House Bill 2242 by our State Legislature and Governor changed the name of local levies from M&O Levy to Enrichment or Educational Programs and Operations Levy (EP&O).


What is State Levy Equalization Assistance (LEA)?


LEA is a state taxpayer equity program. The total value of all taxable property within the school district is called its “assessed value.” The lower the overall assessed property in a school district, the higher the property tax rate. Levy equalization is an adjustment made by the state to level the playing field across the state and reduce the greater tax burden on property owners within school districts that have a lower average assessed valuation than the statewide average. Tonasket is eligible for approximately 1 million dollars per year of LEA only if we pass a local levy.


Does the Tonasket School District benefit from Levy Equalization Assistance funding?

Yes. The school district receives this state funding because it is considered a “property poor” district – a district with a high tax rate due to low assessed property values. In other words, the tax rate required in Tonasket to generate local levy dollars per student is higher than the statewide average tax rate needed to generate the same revenue. 


How much LEA funding does the Tonasket School District receive from the state?

Beginning in the calendar year 2019, LEA will provide funding that ensures the school district receives at least $1,500 per student from levy and LEA sources. This means $1 million per year for the Tonasket School District. The funding is critical to Tonasket School District because when combined with the levy, total Levy/LEA funding is approximately 12% of the school district’s budget. 


Is LEA funding also dependent on passage of the ballot measure?

Yes. LEA is sometimes described as a matching process because it depends upon passage of the local levy and continued funding by the state legislature. 


Is the 2018 ballot request, the same dollar amount as the measure approved in 2016?

No. The dollar amount is less.  Based on the state’s increase in basic education funding the amount that can be collected from local levies is less.  For example, the dollar amount approved by voters in 2016 for the last year of the two-year levy in 2018 is $1.6 million and the February 13 ballot measure asks voters to approve tax collections in 2019 and 2020 of $830,000 and $900,000 respectively.


Is the ballot proposition asking me to consider the “estimated” tax rate or the stated dollar amount of $830,000, and $900,000 per year?

New state law limits tax rates to $1.50 per 1,000 of property assessed value. The Levy Amount can be reduced based on assessed value but cannot go over the stated amounts.


Will the Replacement Levy increase my taxes?

No. Your property taxes will go up in 2018 because of an increase in the state school property tax. This was a decision made in Olympia, not locally. In 2019 your property taxes will go down. This, of course, could be impacted by changes made in Olympia, or if the district runs and passes a Capital Projects Levy or Bond in 2018.


What is a tax rollback?

The levy request is a maximum and not necessarily what property owners actually pay. A levy rollback occurs when the school district collects less than what voters have approved. For example, if the school district is not allowed to collect the full $830,000 in the calendar year 2019, the difference between the amount allowed and the amount approved by voters is called a rollback. The district will NOT collect the rollback amount. 


What will happen if the Replacement Levy does not pass?

The operating budget for the Tonasket School District would need to be reduced by almost 2 million dollars or approximately 12% of the budget. The full impact would take place over two years because tax collection (January through December) does not coincide with the school budget year (September through August). 

What have we done to take care of our existing facility?

We have fixed our leaky MS roof, resealed our driveways, improved drainage in our bus parking lot, fixed the drainage on the east side of the HS, added security cameras district-wide, added security cameras in our school buses, and increased our budget for preventative maintenance. 


How is a levy different from a bond?

  • Levies make up the difference between funding from the state and federal government and the actual cost of operating a school district. Levies pay for teaching materials and equipment, bus transportation, building improvements, such as carpet replacement and interior painting, and vocational, athletic, drama, special education, and gifted programs. Levy funds are typically collected over a two to four-year time period and must be renewed (similar to a magazine subscription). Voters in the Tonasket Schools district approved a two-year maintenance and operations levy in February 2016. That levy expires at the end of 2018. 
  • Funds from bonds can only be used for construction or renovation of buildings, major repairs, and land purchases: they cannot be used for basic education. Bond funds are generally collected over a 10-20-year period (similar to a home mortgage).




How do property taxes and changing property values relate to school bonds and levies?

  • Watch the following video from NWESD for a great break down of information.
  • Our local County Assor: Okanogan County Assessor's Office at (509) 422-7190 or www.okanogancounty.org



Are some homeowners exempt from paying a new tax?

Some senior and disabled homeowners may be eligible for an exemption, based on income. Please call the Okanogan County Assessor's Office at (509) 422-7190 or visit their website:
www.okanogancounty.org

Where can I learn more about voter registration?

Okanogan County voter registration information is online at:
https://wei.sos.wa.gov/county/okanogan/en/elections/Pages/default.aspx 



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