2022 EP&O Levy


Frequently Asked Questions

 


What is an Educational Programs and Operation Levy?

The Replacement Educational Programs and Operation Levy (EP&O) 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, athletics, cheerleading, etc.

  • Curriculum and Technology – curriculum materials (i.e. ELA and Math adoption), technology and devices for staff and students, technology staffing.


Is the ballot proposition asking me to consider the “estimated” tax rate or the stated dollar amount of $1,053,696, and $1,116,918 per year?

New state law limits tax rates to $2.50 per 1,000 of property assessed value. Our request estimates a rate of $1.60 per $1,000 of assessed value to generate the above dollar amounts. The amount above will be collected, and the rate will change based on the assessed property valuation in our district. 


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 renew the two-year Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) Levy they approved in 2020.


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?

For the 2022-23 school year, Tonasket School District is estimated to collect $1,100,000 in Levy Equalization funds each year. This 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. 


Will the Replacement Levy increase my taxes?

The graphs below show that you will pay less in local school levy tax in 2022-23 with the passage of the replacement EP&O levy on the February 2022 ballot than was paid in the recent past.
Graph
TSD Graph

Why is the levy rate for 2021 $1.52 per $1,000 of assessed value but we are saying we’re running the EP&O levy at the same rate as last time, at $1.60?

When setting the levy rate, the school board sets a specific dollar amount to collect and estimates the levy rate based on the projected change in assessed value of the property in the school district boundary. If the assessed value increases at a higher rate than projected, the levy rate will go down, but if the assessed value goes down or increases at a lower rate than projected, then the levy rate will increase. The dollar amount collected does not change from what is on the ballot; only the rate fluctuates based on the overall assessed property value.


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). 


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 Educational Programs and Operations Levy in February 2020. That levy expires at the end of 2022. 

  • 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://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/register.aspx

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