By DALE PALMER
Next Tuesday, Feb. 5, is the date of many local school districts' Maintenance and Operations Levies. The White Salmon Valley School District is one of those districts.
School districts must run special maintenance and operations levies because the state does not fully fund education in the state of Washington.
Maintenance and Operations Levies are generally replacement levies. White Salmon's levy is a replacement levy. The current levy will expire in December of 2002. The proposed levy is a replacement levy that will replace this levy in the 2003-04 and 2004-05 school years.
This is not a new tax but a tax that will replace the current tax when it expires in December. The proposed levy will also be a lower over-all tax than is currently being assessed (see next paragraph). This replacement levy will allow programs and staffing to remain at their current levels. It will allow programs for our students to remain intact. We have great programs for the students of the White Salmon School District, and this levy is to maintain our current level of funding.
Last school year (2000-2001) the White Salmon School District was under-funded by the state $1,208,810. The Maintenance and Operations Levy was for $1,140,000. As you can see, the levy did not quite cover the under-funded costs from the state. As a result, the school board has decided to increase the amount of the levy by $100,000 to $1,240,000.
However, the overall school taxes will decrease in the per-thousand dollars of assessed valuation. The school district is currently paying for two school district bonds.
In 1988 a bond was approved to add 12 new classrooms, a gymnasium, music room, library and office space to Henkle Middle School. This bond will be completely paid for in 2007. The second bond currently being paid for is the Maintenance and Transportation Center bond that was approved in 1998. Bond payments naturally decrease slightly each year.
The district has also received more state forest monies that were deposited directly into the debt service fund. As a result, fewer tax dollars will need to be collected to service the bonds.
Therefore, the School Board has decided to reduce tax collections in the debt service fund by $180,000 each of the two levy years. This will result in a significant reduction in taxes.
Currently taxpayers are paying $.82 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation for the bonds. By reducing the amount collected from taxpayers by $180,000 each year, the projection is for taxpayers to pay $.56 the first year and $.50 the second year of the proposed levy.
Again, this results in an overall tax decrease to our taxpayers.
Our Maintenance and Operations Levy is set for Tuesday, February 5, 2002. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Please vote and support your schools!