School bonds – No – – levies – maybe

February 2nd, 2012 by Ken

All of the school districts in Thurston County have a levy request before the voters – the big ones and the small ones. You should have received your ballot in the mail. You have until February 14 to get your ballot in the mail or dropped off at one of the many drop boxes around the area.

Incidentally you should also receive your property tax statement next week. I’m sure there’s no coincidence between the date of the school levy and the day your receive your property tax notification.

The Olympia School District has a $98 million dollar bond issue up for approval – and no matter what I say – voters in the Olympia district will approve the bond issue. But, I’m going to say it anyway.

Olympia doesn’t need the bond issue. It needs to redraw its school boundaries and move students from over-crowded classrooms into schools with empty classrooms. I don’t live in the Olympia School District but I do have grandchildren living there, and I don’t think the Olympia School District needs the bond issue – – at least not in these hard financial times.

But, the maintenance and operations levies are a different breed of money. These operation levies constitute from 20 to 25 percent of local school district budgets. The levies fund teachers, athletics, transportation and other educational activities. Depending on the school district, the levy will cost the owner of a single-family home around $850 a year, more if you have one of those million dollar homes.

The districts are quick to point out that these levies replace the current levies and adds little more to your property tax bill. From a look at the levy requests,each will increase about five percent a year for the next four years – – above the rate of inflation. School administrators say the increase will not go to salaries but will be needed to off set the cost of utilities, gas and food.

Thanks to the generosity of the state legislature, maintenance and operation levies now only require a bare majority of 50 percent to pass.

Posted in Government, Informational, The Real News

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