Sequim approves two school levies — 'I feel great,' says school superintendent

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

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SEQUIM –– Voters in the sprawling school district gave a $24.8 million valentine to the city’s school system Tuesday night when they approved the school’s two property tax levy requests.

“I feel great,” first-year Superintendent Kelly Shea said from the Clallam County Courthouse after first-night returns were posted.

“The last thing you want as the new guy in a town with a history of incredible support for its schools is to mess something up.”

The four-year maintenance and operations levy will provide $5.8 million from 2014 to 2017, and the one-time bus replacement levy will provide $1.6 million.

The auditors of both Clallam and Jefferson counties counted 10,432 of the 21,790 ballots mailed to district voters — or 47.8 percent.
Clallam County counted 10,164 of 21,522 ballots, or 47.2 percent, mailed to voters.

Jefferson counted 153 of its 268 mailed ballots to Gardiner residents, representing 57.1 percent.

Both county auditors expect only a handful of additional ballots.

Since only a simple majority is required to pass, remaining ballots aren’t enough to change outcomes.

Clallam County Auditor Patty Rosand said the next count will be on Friday, while Jefferson County Elections Supervisor Karen Cartmel said the next tally will be on certification day, Feb. 26.

Funding through 2017

The maintenance and operations levy will raise $5,780,000 for the school’s operations in 2014 through 2017.

Estimated levy rate from the Assessor’s Office is $1.611 per $1,000 assessed value in 2014, $1.611 in 2015, $1.608 in 2016 and $1.607 in 2017.

This year, property owners within the district will pay $1.59 for every $1,000 of assessed valuation.

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

Transportation Supervisor Jeff Gossage said the new buses will provide mean that operations can be streamlined.

“With this transportation levy, we’ll be able to have a standardized fleet,” Gossage said.

Bluebird brand buses make up 60 percent of the fleet.

Some of the old buses have 250,000 miles on them, Gossage said.

The upcoming expiration of a 1998 construction bond means even with these levies, the district’s total tax rate charged property owners is expected to go down.

This year, the total school district tax rate is $2.27 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation.

Next year, it will be $2.18 per $1,000 assessed value.

Property owners will be taxed for only the operations levy in 2015 through 2017.

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladaily

Last modified: February 12. 2013 8:54PM
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