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Smaller school levy confirmed for Nov. ballot

The Grand Coulee Dam School District approved a ballot measure Monday that will ask voters this fall to pay about half what they have been under levies about to expire.

The levy resolution approved by the school board Monday will go on the November ballot seeking only $2 per $1,000 of assessed property value within the district from 2023 through 2025, compared to the current rate of $4.20.

“We are looking to reduce costs for taxpayers, especially now with inflation,” School Board Director Rich Black said at their July 11 meeting.

Grant County Assessor Melissa McKnight told The Star earlier this year that the total valuation in the school district, spanning properties in Grant, Okanogan, Douglas, and Lincoln counties and excluding senior exempt properties, is $335,543,725, an increase of $27,740,468 from 2021, about an 8% gain in taxable value.

In 2022, a capital levy collected about $518,000 with a collection rate of $1.70 per $1,000 of assessed property value, while the two educational enrichment levies collected about $839,000 at a rate of $2.50 per $1,000 for a total collection of $1,357,000.

Those three levies are expiring at the end of 2022.

The newly proposed educational levy seeks to collect $721,000 in 2023, or $636,000 less than the three expiring levies are collecting in 2022.

The new levy then seeks to collect $775,500 in 2024, and $814,000 in 2025 as increases in total district property value are anticipated.

The three expiring levies totaled a maximum collection rate of $4.20 per $1,000 of assessed property value, $2.20 more than the one, newly proposed levy.

That difference is due to the February failure of a $1.70 capital levy, which the district chose not to rerun, and the failure of a $2.50 educational levy.

Superintendent Paul Turner said last February that the educational levy is the most important to pass because it helps pay for educational services ranging from preschool to special education and more, while the capital levy helps pay for upgrades to school facilities, which are less essential to school operations.

The educational levy is also tied to about $700,000 more per year from the state that the district doesn’t get if voters don’t approve a levy.

If approved, the levy itself would bring in roughly $2.3 million over those three years. The additional $700,000 from the state per year would bring in another $2.1 million for a total of $4.4 million over that three-year span.

The GCDSD board of directors also approved a budget resolution for the 2022-23 school year that is based on the money they have confirmed so far, and doesn’t include the money that the new levy would bring in. 

That budget projects $14.1 million in expenditures for the 2022-23 school year, down about half a million dollars from the 2021-22 school year, and about $12.8 million in revenues, $1.6 million less than the $14.4 million in 2021-22.

That $1.6 million drop comes from loss of revenue from levies, the loss of money that would be added by the state with the passage of a local levy, $400,000 in the loss of federal Impact Aid dollars, as well as reduced Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds, according to a slideshow presented to the board at their meeting. 

Absorbing some of the hit, the 2022-23 general fund beginning balance is at about $1.6 milion, roughly $600,000 more than the year before.

Superintendent Paul Turner said that cuts in expenditures were made “across the board” and not in any specific area.

The passage of the levy would add back revenue to the 2022-23 budget from part of 2023’s collection and from the state money that encourages local levies.

Turner said the board plans to host a community meeting sometime in August to talk about the levy and what it pays for.


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