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Election Comes Feb. 5

School districts seek voter support

Voters in five area school districts will be asked to approve maintenance and operations replacement levies on Tuesday, Feb. 5, that aim to provide local tax funding of $5,284,500 for the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years.

Following is a breakdown of the five levy proposals that will be appearing on ballots in the White Salmon Valley, Lyle, Glenwood, Goldendale, and Centerville school districts.

White Salmon Valley

The White Salmon Valley School District is requesting voter approval of a two-year replacement levy that will generate $1.24 million per year.

Under this proposal, the M&O levy rate will decrease from $2.55 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in the first year to an estimated $2.32 per $1,000 in the second.

For the owner of property valued at $150,000, the difference in levy rates translates into a tax decrease of $34.50 in the second year, or a tax bill of $348 instead of $382.50.

Revenues from the current $1.14 million levy, which expires Dec. 31, will be collected through the end of the year.

Collection of the replacement levy would begin in April of 2003, should it pass on Feb. 5.

To win validation, 503 voters (412 in Klickitat County, 91 in Skamania County) must cast levy election ballots.

In order to pass, the levy must receive Yes votes from a 60 percent supermajority (302) of those 503 voters.

School officials point out that this M&O replacement levy is a separate matter from the two construction bonds voters approved in 1988 and 1998.

And the reason it is $100,000 more than what the district asked for and received in 2000-01 and 2001-02 is a decline in enrollment during the past two school years. That drop, according to Superintendent Dale Palmer, resulted in a loss of $140,000 in state basic education funding.

To offset the shortfall and cover expenses, the district had to dip into its cash reserves.

Local school directors wanted to avoid robbing reserves in the coming years; that's one reason why they voted to raise the levy amount.

Another reason was they wanted to be able to meet the district's obligations and still maintain current education programs and staffing levels.

Passage of the levy, noted Palmer, "will allow programs for our students to remain intact. We have great programs for the students (of this district), and this levy is to maintain our current level of funding."

Lyle School District

Lyle School District is seeking voter approval of a two-year replacement levy of $1.68 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, which will provide $255,000 in local funding for both 2003-04 and 2004-05.

What does that mean to taxpayers? Owners of property valued at $150,000 will receive a tax bill of $252 per year.

According to district officials, this is the same levy rate voters approved two years ago. They also point out it is the lowest of any district in the county.

Moreover, voter approval of the levy will make the district eligible for about $115,000 in state levy equalization funds.

A total of 304 voters must cast ballots to validate the election, which also needs 183 Yes votes (60 percent) from those participating to win passage.

Polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Lyle at the Methodist Church and at the Dallesport Community Center for voters in the North Dalles Precinct. Everybody else will vote by mail.

Glenwood School District

Glenwood School District's two-year replacement levy needs 115 votes to gain validation.

The district's proposal is for $110,000 for 2003-04 and 2004-05, at a rate of $2.88 per $1,000 of assessed valuation.

That's a tax bill of $288 per year for the owner of property valued at $100,000.

Voting will take place at the Glenwood School from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Goldendale School District

Goldendale School District is presenting voters with a two-year replacement levy that will allow for collection of $922,500 in 2003-04 and $952,000 in 2004-05.

The levy is based on a rate of $1.79 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. It will cost an owner with property valued at $150,000 $268.50 per year.

The validation threshold for the election is 750 voters.

Centerville School District

Centerville School District's two-year replacement levy of $3 per $1,000 of assessed valuation -- the highest rate in the county -- will furnish $100,000 per year.

To gain validation, 61 voters must take part for the election.

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