The South Whidbey School Board is seeking a replacement levy that decreases the property tax rate.
Voters will have the chance to weigh in on the proposed enrichment levy on the ballot this February. If passed, the educational programs and operations levy will replace the current levy of the same name, which expires at the end of 2022.
The current levy rate, for 2020 through 2022, collects 95 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value annually, providing over $4 million a year in funding for programs and services not funded by the state. These include extracurriculars, athletic programs, field trips and some employee benefits.
Assistant Superintendent of Business and Operations Dan Poolman recommended a decrease in the levy rate to school board members during a meeting Nov. 17. He suggested a three-year levy that will collect 55 cents per $1,000 in 2023, 51 cents in 2024 and 48 cents in 2025.
As a result, this will bring in $400,000 to $600,000 less per year than the current levy.
“That’s a substantial difference,” Poolman said. “Rather than asking for more every year, we’re actually asking for a lot less than we asked for last time, whether you look at the amount or the rate.”
He added that the school district could ask for more, but it would not be able to be collected because it is limited by state code.
The Department of Revenue is estimating that property valuation will increase in the coming years. Because of this escalation in value, Poolman explained, the rate of the levy must decrease dramatically.
Student representatives attending the board meeting agreed that the enrichment levy is vital in funding things furthering education such as field trips.
Board members wholeheartedly supported Poolman’s recommendation, which he agreed was the “most aggressive” of all the options he presented.