Two school levies on Port Townsend ballot next month

Funds would go to educational programs, capital projects

PORT TOWNSEND — With the election a month away, the “Support Your Schools” campaign signs are appearing around town for two levies: one for educational programs and the other for capital projects in the Port Townsend School District.

The Port Townsend School Board voted unanimously last month to put both on the ballot in a special election Feb. 8.

Voters will be asked to approve or reject a replacement levy to fund Port Townsend school libraries, nutrition and wellness and extracurricular activities, Superintendent Linda Rosenbury said Friday. If approved, the educational programs levy also would help pay for sports, music and drama programming across the district.

Also on the ballot: a levy for capital projects, including the installation of solar panels at Salish Coast Elementary and a seismic retrofit study of Port Townsend High School. It also would fund district-wide modernization of the technology students use.

Levies are needed because state funding doesn’t cover such improvements, Rosenbury has said.

Both levies will span three years and begin in 2023, after the current levies expire.

The educational programs levy would collect $3.45 million next year via a property tax rate of 90 cents per $1,000 in assessed property valuation.

To the owner of a $450,000 home, that would mean $405 annually.

The capital projects levy, which would collect $1.75 million in 2023, would come with a rate of 46 cents per $1,000 in assessed valuation. The annual property tax would amount to $207 on a $450,000 home.

Jefferson County Assessor Jeff Chapman said Friday that, as of January 2022, the median assessed value of homes in the Port Townsend School District has risen to $406,018.

If the replacement levies are endorsed by voters, collection would start in January 2023. The median assessed value “may be closer to $500,000 by this time next year,” Chapman added.

Amy Khile, the school district’s director of finance and business operations, said property owners will see a tax rate that is fairly consistent with the rates under the current school levies. Assessed values will rise, bringing in more tax revenue without a big jump in the tax rate, she noted.

The second year of the educational programs levy would collect $3.55 million via property tax of 86 cents per $1,000 in assessed valuation. That would amount to $387 annually on a $450,000 house.

In 2025, the levy would be adjusted to collect $3.525 million with the tax rate at 79 cents per $1,000. That would mean a property tax bill of $355.50 on a $450,000 home.

The capital projects levy, meanwhile, would collect $2 million in 2024 and another $2 million in 2025. The tax rate would be 48 cents per $1,000 in 2024 and 45 cents per $1,000 the following year.

Unlike some other school districts on the North Olympic Peninsula, Port Townsend has a history of success with passing school levies, Khile said.

Rosenbury, who became superintendent in July, credited the voters.

“Our community wants a great experience for the children here,” she said.

Rosenbury believes residents in the district understand the value of the music, art and athletics programs funded by levies.

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Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

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