Sequim school officials anticipate election costs
By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News
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Cape Flattery levy approval margin widens after 2nd countCLALLAM BAY –– The passing margin of Cape Flattery School District’s four-year, $375,000 maintenance-and-operations levy widened after a second count of ballots Friday.
Clallam County elections officials added 50 ballots to Tuesday’s election night count, which increased the approval percentage from 73 percent to 74 percent.
The count through Friday now stands at 260 yes votes to 91 no votes. Election night returns showed 220 yes votes to 81 no votes.
The levy is a $25,000 increase from the 2010-14 maintenance-and-operations levy of $350,000, which expires in December.
Property owners in the district will be taxed an estimated $2.99 per $1,000 valuation from 2014-15 through 2017-18. They had paid $2.33 per $1,000 of assessed home value.
Voters returned 351 of the 1,140 ballots mailed to them, for a turnout of 30.8 percent.
The levy is for instructional supplies and non-instructional support services.
Cape Flattery School District includes Clallam Bay School, Neah Bay Junior-Senior High and Neah Bay Elementary schools.
The schools serve Neah Bay, Clallam Bay and the Sekiu area.
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Clallam County elections officials updated the ballot count Friday afternoon, the last count before certification May 6, the same day Jefferson County will update its election night totals.
Although the margin by which Sequim voters rejected the school construction measure shrank, the outcome was unchanged.
Voters rejected the measure by 6,601 votes, or 55.3 percent, as of Friday's tally. They had rejected it by 6,077 votes, or 56.5 percent, in the initial election night count Tuesday.
Total votes in favor were 5,333 in favor, or 44.7 percent.
Districtwide turnout was 55.3 percent, with 12,080 ballots returned of 21,851 mailed to voters in Clallam and Jefferson counties.
Clallam County mailed 21,578 ballots, while Jefferson County mailed 273.
Public entities must pay the county elections office for the costs of running elections.
“People will probably say, 'You spent that much money for that ridiculous plan?'” said Superintendent Kelly Shea.
“But that's the way the system is.”
The school district asked for $154,325,000 worth of bonds to fund construction of a new elementary school, an extensive remodel and renovation of the high school and two existing elementary schools, and a new athletic complex.
The bonds would have taxed district landowners an estimated $2.24 per $1,000 of assessed property value.
The measure needed 60 percent approval for passage.
County elections officials said total costs of the election likely won't be known until after certification.
Set aside $40,000
School officials had set aside $40,000 to pay costs for printing, mailing and tabulating ballots.
Brian Lewis, district business manager, said election costs are an annual line in their annual operating budget.
“Whether we spend it or not, we make plans for an election every year, just in case,” he said.
The 2013 levy proposition cost just under $40,000, he said.
Shea noted that the campaign in support of the bond was privately funded by the longstanding citizen school advocacy organization Citizens for Sequim Schools.
“Everything that was yellow, that's all paid for by the Citizens for Sequim Schools,” Shea said.
Clallam County's updated tally Friday included 1,175 ballots not in the first count: 651 yes votes and 524 no votes.
Ballots had been postmarked or placed in drops boxes Tuesday but were received in the auditor's mail Wednesday and Thursday.
Lewis said bond measures typically take a few votes to pass.
“Now we're changing our uniforms and getting ready for the second half,” Lewis said.
Sequim School District's 1996 bond to build the middle school and new buildings on the high school campus took four votes before it passed, he said.
“It takes a few shots in general before people understand what it is you're asking for,” Lewis said.
Though the district spent much of 2013 studying its facilities in advance of the bond proposition, school officials say the bond may have been the first entry into the idea for many voters.
“Now that we have people's attention a little more, maybe we'll be able to explain ourselves to a larger audience,” Lewis said.
Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: April 26. 2014 5:21PM