District will seek 2-year school levy

Voters will be asked to approve an estimated $3.2 million levy for South Whidbey schools when it goes to a vote in a special election Feb. 5.

On Monday night, the South Whidbey School Board voted unanimously to ask for voter approval of a two-year maintenance and operation levy that will help fund the educational needs of district students in 2003 through 2004.

If the levy is approved, $3,169,555 would be collected in 2003 and $3,190,370 in 2004.

"We feel that it (the amount) is reasonable, and it builds a little bit of room for growth, particularly because we have not utilized the full amount authorized by voters in the last election," said Superintendent Martin Laster.

The district developed three financial scenarios prior to figuring the levy -- a 2 percent, 3 percent and 4 percent increase in revenue over the basic budget. The resolution approved by the board uses the 3 percent scenario.

"We chose to ask for a 3 percent increase because it is in the midrange of growth, and best reflects student enrollment which has leveled off somewhat. Also, 3 percent parallels the cost of living. This is a very conservative approach, which reflects the district's concerns for our community during these tough economic times." said Laster.

The amount is about $21,000 more than previously approved in the prior levy for the first year, and a further increase of about $20,000 in the second year.

The estimated dollar rate to produce such an amount is estimated at $1.47 per $1,000 in 2003, and $1.44 in 2004 of assessed property value.

There was some discussion about a four-year versus two-year levy. Laster said he believes with the economy slipping and other recent events, it is wise to stick with the two -year levy. This year the district collected $2,985,521 in taxes from South Whidbey property owners, or about $1.40 on every $1,000 of assessed property value in the district.

The school levy will appear on the ballot with a levy proposed by the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District.

"Parks and the district will be sharing the cost of the election, which is good for both of us," said Laster.

The total cost for the election is estimated at about $8,000 to $10,000.

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