Port Townsend schools levies on special election ballot

PORT TOWNSEND — The Port Townsend School District will ask voters to approve two three-year tax levies on the Feb. 12 special election ballot.

The school proposals are both replacement levies. One is an educational programs and school support levy; the current levy expires in December. A capital levy of $3.625 million would replace one that was completed in 2016. Both would be collected over a three-year period.

A simple majority is required for passage for both measures.

The district is asking for “basically the same level of support and there will not be an increase in what is currently being levied,” Superintendent John Polm said. “It’s a wash.”

Ballots will be mailed Jan. 23 to all registered voters in the Port Townsend School District.

The district’s Proposition 1 would support educational programs and school supported expenses not funded by the state. These include library, arts, nutrition and wellness, special education, maritime programs and extracurricular activities, such as athletics, and co-curricular activities.

“With the expiration of the district’s current four-year general fund educational programs and operations levy, it appears certain that the money in the district’s general fund will be insufficient to meet the needs of its students and pay expenses of educational programs and school support not funded by the state of Washington,” Polm said.

The proposed three-year general fund levy would provide for approximately the same educational programs and school support as the expiring levy.

Collected in 2020-2022, the estimated levy rate per $1,000 assessed value would be $1.08 in 2020, collecting $3.03 million; $1.12 in 2021, collecting $3.195 million; and $1.15 million in 2022, collecting $3.375 million, totalling $9.6 million.

The district is allowed to collect up to $2,500 per student.

“Based on our enrollment projections, this is our best guess,” Polm said. “We can’t collect more than what the law allows.”

Proposition 2 would authorize a levy for the district’s capital project fund to support the construction, modernization and remodeling of school facilities, and requests an aggregate amount of $3.625 million.

Polm said the current capital projects funds for the school years 2019-2023 are insufficient to pay for projects.

Projects include school access controls, communication and emergency alarm systems and other safety and security systems; modernizing student technology devices and other technology equipment; renovating the Port Townsend High School to provide Americans with Disability Act (ADA) access; expanding school garden programs; improving learning spaces facilities for asset preservation; and making other safety technology and facilities improvements as determined by the school board.

“The fire alarm systems at Blue Heron Middle School and at Port Townsend High School need upgrading, and the sewer lines at Blue Heron need preventative maintenance,” Polm said.

Collected in 2020-2022, the estimated levy rate per $1,000 of assessed value would be $0.45 in 2020, collecting $$1.25 million; $0.42 in 2021, collecting $1.2 million; and $0.40 in 2022, collecting $1.175.

“The message for the community is that we are asking for educational program support and capital funds that will not increase local taxes to support our schools,” Polm said. “The strategy is not to burden taxpayers with additional taxes. They have supported schools in the past and we want to maintain that same rate for both of the issues.”

The school district website has more information at http://www.ptschools.org/levy.

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Jefferson County Editor/Reporter Jeannie McMacken can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at jmcmacken@peninsuladailynews.com.

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