Gig Harbor and Key Peninsula residents will decide this Tuesday the fate of an $87 million levy to keep schools running over the next four years.
The measure in Tuesday’s mail-in election would cost the owner of a $300,000 house about $60 more a year in property taxes next year.
The Educational Programs and Operations Levy, which replaces the last levy that voters approved in 2009, would run through 2016 and cover about 22 percent of the cost of operating the Peninsula School District on a day-to-day basis.
, Superintendent Terry Bouck and Deputy Superintendent Chuck Cuzzetto have been making the rounds once again to rally voters.
"I refer to the levy as 'keeping the lights on and the doors open,'" Bouck said.
The levy provides for 20 percent of teacher salaries, all health technicians, and 80 percent of sports and extracurricular activities. If the levy fails, class sizes would increase and the number of electives and AP classes would be cut.
Bouck said every staff member in the district has already agreed to take a pay reduction of 1.9 percent to 5 percent over the next two years.
The levy that’s expiring is projected to cost homeowners $1.94 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2012, according to the district. So the owner of a $300,000 home would pay $582 in property taxes to the district. The proposed levy estimates the tax rate at $2.14 in 2013, rising to $2.34 by 2016. So next year, the owner of a $300,000 home would pay about $642, or $60 more than this year.
Last year, the average home value was $355,900, and the district expects the value to be at $356,800 in 2016.
Peninsula School District had the lowest total tax rates in 2011 among all districts in Pierce and Kitsap counties at $2.06 per $1,000 of assessed value, Cuzzetto said.
"We are substantially valued less than every other school district in the area," he said. Cuzzetto credited this to low bond rates and high assessed values.
Other districts that have lower assessed property values also benefit from the state levy equalization, or the Local Effort Assistance, program, which gives money to those districts to level the playing field and avoid excessive tax burdens on homeowners.
The district says that in 2010 Peninsula’s levy amounted to less than $2,000 per student, the second-lowest in Pierce and Kitsap counties, behind Steilacoom.
The district can increase its levy amount because the state allowed districts to raise their levy caps.
Levy supporters include , , and the .
In an effort to gain support from voters, Bouck and Cuzzetto have made about 65 presentations to different community organizations and clubs, including the leadership classes at the high schools and encouraged those students who are eligible to register to vote.
However, there are opponents.
"The school district is current(ly) collecting over $18 Million from us and the new levy (IF APPROVED) will increase that tax to $23,321,982. That’s a 28 percent increase yet they call it a ‘replacement’ levy. Over the past 13 years the District has been increasing the levy rate over 6 percent each year even as the student count continues to decline," Gig Harbor resident Randy Boss wrote in an email to Patch.
"I’m tired of working smarter and streamlining my business and having my family sacrifice to live within my declining income while the municipals just keep taking more and more of my money," he added.
Unlike the bond measure, which required 60 percent and one vote to pass, the levy needs just 50 percent plus one to pass.
LEVY AT A GLANCE:Current Levy
Levied Projected Rate Actual Rate 2010 $16,502,732 $1.32 $1.47 2011 $17,162,841 $1.32 $1.67 2012 $18,020,983 $1.32
*Assessed values decreased 14 percent 2009 to 2011
2012 Educational Programs and Operations Levy
Levied Projected Rate 2013 $19,959,160 $2.14 2014 $21,140,463 $2.27 2015 $22,569,083 $2.38 2016 $23,321,982 $2.34
Funding from this levy will continue to pay for services, including:
- 20 percent οf the cost of classroom teachers
- 40 percent of the cost for custodians, para-educators and clerical staff
- 80 percent of athletic and co-curricular costs
- 100 percent of the cost of health technicians
- 85 percent of technology staff and equipment
- 100 percent of maintenance projects
- The four-day, all-day free kindergarten program
- 60 percent of textbooks and instructional materials
- Supplemental funding for school security and emergency preparedness.
Tuesday’s election is by mail-in ballot only. Voters can also use deposit boxes, which will close at 8 p.m. They are at:
Purdy Fire Station
5210 144th St NW
8911 Key Peninsula Hwy, KPNGig Harbor Fire Station
6711 Kimball Dr.
The will also be set up as one of the voting centers for voter registration, accessible voting equipment and assistance from staff. Hours: Feb. 13 and 14, 7 a.m. - 8 p.m