Levy election ballots go out to Sequim-area, Forks-area voters Wednesday

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

Ballots for the Feb. 12 special election will be mailed Wednesday to Sequim-area and Forks-area registered voters who are being asked to approve school district property tax levies.

Ballots must be postmarked by Feb. 12, hand-delivered to the Clallam County Auditor’s Office at the courthouse at 223 E. Fourth St. in Port Angeles or placed in a ballot drop box no later than
8 p.m. that day.

Drop boxes are outside the courthouse, in the Forks District Court lobby at 502 E. Division St., and at Sequim City Hall at 152 W. Cedar St.

Ballots were mailed to those in the military Jan. 11.

The Sequim School District is asking voters to approve two levies: a four-year $5.8 million educational programs and operations levy and a one-time $1.6 million transportation levy to replace 17 of the district’s buses.

The four-year levy is a replacement levy for one that expires this year, school officials said.

This year, property owners within the district will pay $1.59 for every $1,000 of assessed property value, for a total of $5.78 million, school officials said.

If approved, the new levy would provide the district $5.8 million each year from 2014 through 2017.

The projected tax rate for 2014 and 2015 would be $1.61 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, according to the Clallam County Auditor’s Office in its online voter guide at http://tinyurl.com/aokhw57.

In 2016 and 2017, the estimated amount would be $1.60 per $1,000 assessed valuation, the voter guide said.

The $1.6 million transportation levy, a one-time tax with an estimated rate of 44 cents per $1,000 assessed property value, would provide the district with enough money to buy 17 buses over the next four years, according to district officials.

The district currently has 32 buses, the oldest purchased in 1988, District Business Manager Brian Lewis has said.

School districts receive depreciation payments each year for 13 years after purchasing a bus.

Currently, eight buses are older than 13 years old, and an additional nine buses will cross that line in the next two years, Lewis has said.

School district officials said that a 1998 construction bond will expire in 2014, so if the levies are approved by voters, the average property owner’s taxes still would be reduced.

In 2013, the total school levy is $2.27 per $1,000 assessed property value, officials said.

Next year, that would be $2.18 as the bond enters its final year of payment, they added.

Property owners would be taxed for only the operations levy in 2015 if it passes.

The Sequim School District website at http://tinyurl.com/a7zvkgd says that property owners of buildings valued at $100,000 will pay Sequim school property taxes of $226.90 in 2013 and $217.90 in 2014, while property valued at $200,000 would cost its owner $453.80 in 2013 and $435.80 in 2014, and property valued at $300,000 would cost its owner $680.70 in 2013 and $653.70 in 2013.

The Quillayute Valley School District has proposed a four-year maintenance and operation levy that would replace the current levy on Forks property owners, which expires this year.

The levy would collect $628,000 each year from 2014 through 2017 — which is the same amount that has been collected for the existing two-year levy.

The projected rate would be $1.45 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2104; $1.44 per $1,000 valuation in 2015, $1.42 per $1,000 in 2016 and $1.40 per $1,000 in 2017, according to the Clallam County Auditor’s Office.

A property owner with a structure valued at $100,000 would pay $145 annually for the levy, school district officials said.

Superintendent Diana Reaume said the levy would pay for expenses not covered by state funding, such as maintaining buildings and grounds, books and other educational materials, technology costs and extracurricular activities such as athletics, drama, art, music and field trips.

The district plans to resurface the Spartan Stadium track, add safety upgrades to crosswalks and sidewalks on South Elderberry Avenue, add new drain vents on the Forks Middle School roof, re-roof Forks Alternative School and the Independent Learning Center Annex, replace district motor pool vehicles, replace the middle school freezer and 1970s-era carpeting at Forks Elementary School, purchase textbooks and fund annual technology upgrades.

If the levy is not passed, the district would lose more than $2 million in levy equalization funds from the state annually, according to district officials.

Levy equalization allows districts with lower property values to be funded at a rate similar to high property value districts through added state financing.

Any voter in the Sequim or Quillayute Valley school districts who does not receive a Clallam County primary election ballot should phone the Auditor’s Office at 360-417-2221 or visit the courthouse office.

Voters also can visit www.clallam.net/elections, click on “My Vote” and print a replacement ballot.

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Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: January 21. 2013 6:32PM
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