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School Levy Vote: Feb. 3

Voters to decide on replace M&O

The White Salmon Valley School District has decided on a dollar amount and scheduled a vote on a two-year "maintenance & operations" replacement levy.

On Feb. 3, voters will decide whether to approve or reject the school district's levy request, which is for $1,425,000 each year for two years. The figure represents an increase of $185,000 over the current school levy.

However, School Superintendent Dale Palmer said that although the dollar amount is higher, the rate is actually lower than what is currently in effect.

"It is critical to remember that this is a replacement levy, and not a new taxation," explained Palmer. "Even though the levy amount is a slight increase, the total tax rate per thousand dollars of assessed valuation will decrease."

Palmer pointed out that the 2003 total school tax rate is $3.11 per $1,000, while the projected 2005 rate is $2.88 per $1,000, and the 2006 rate is $2.84 per $1,000.

According to Palmer, the levy funds would go to pay for teaching supplies, textbooks, library books, transportation, increased utility costs, extracurricular programs, current programs, and staffing.

The money would also go to maintain 1.5 certificated staff, provide $20,000 to cover a portion of the after-school programs, and inflation costs.

As part of its efforts to gain support for the levy, school officials plan to organize a "telephone tree" campaign, with volunteers calling to urge local residents to vote in support of the levy request. The first round of calls will begin on Jan. 12 and continue through Jan. 14. Those calls are geared to reach mail-in and absentee voters. Another round of calling will take place Jan. 27-30 in advance of election day.

Because the turnout in the last election on Nov. 4 was so low, the school district needs only 508 voters to cast ballots on Feb. 3 in order to validate the election. That figure represents 40 percent of those voting in the previous election.

The school's levy vote is a taxing measure, which means that there must be at least 60 percent supermajority for the levy to be approved.

Palmer said he was optimistic about the outcome.

"I feel very positive that our community will support this levy," Palmer said.

The last time the school district sought voter support for a maintenance & operations levy was in February 2002. At that time, voters approved the measure by approximately 66 percent to 34 percent.

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