• FAQs

    Posted by Ruth Richardson on 2/20/2019 1:45:00 PM

    Capital Levy

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What are you really asking for?

    The district is asking for $2.5 million annually for six years.

    Don’t we already pay taxes to fix schools?

    No. The Educational Programs & Operations (EPO) Levy pays for learning in the classroom.

    Doesn’t the state already fund school maintenance?

    No. It’s up to local communities to maintain buildings with local taxes.

    How did the district determine the cost of the projects?

    With quotes and estimates from construction experts.

    How do I know what my annual tax increase will be with the proposed levy?

    Look at your property tax assessment. If your home is valued at $300,000, you would take the levy rate (first year is 64¢) and multiply 300 x .64. The tax increase will be $192 or $16 per month in 2021.

    Didn’t the school already receive money from the state because of the McCleary decision?

    Yes, but the funding does not cover the actual costs of operating a school district.

    Doesn’t the state fully fund public education?

    The McCleary court decision was not meant to stop bonds and levies. In fact, the legislation had nothing to do with bonds. Local school districts are still responsible for the majority of the cost to build new schools and fix old ones.

    Is there a senior or disabled exemption?

    Seniors, age 61 and older by Dec. 31, 2018, as well as disabled persons, with a combined income of less than $40,000 a year may be exempt from all or part of bond taxes. Call the Skagit County Assessor’s Office at 360-416-1780 for more information.   

    Why did you choose to run a capital levy instead of a bond?  

    After two failed bonds, the maintenance needs are even more immediate. Our aging facilities have many needs including enhanced safety, security, ADA accessibility, and fire alarm/suppression systems. 

    Bonds are the way Washington state funds major building projects. They span 20-30 years and keep the per/$1000 cost much lower than smaller levies. Dollars from a bond can be made available right away. Capital levies are for smaller projects, can only release funds yearly, and have higher immediate per/$1000 rates due to the short payback period (2-6 yrs. max).

    If we can fix the immediate needs, it will save our community money in the long run as construction costs continue to escalate. 

    My property value has increased substantially over the past decade, so that means the school district must be collecting more tax revenue every year. Where is that extra money going?

    Until 2019, school district levies were based on an amount limit as voted on by the public. For example, Sedro-Woolley School District voters approved a levy of $10,200,000 for 2017 and $10,200,000 for 2018. The district could not collect more than that amount, so the increasing value of homes had nothing to do with the amount the school district could collect.

    In 2019, the legislature changed the school levy formula and only allowed district's to levy $1.50 per thousand of assessed value. That change lowered our levy collections from $10.2 million to $4.4 million for 2019. Now levies are tied to the ebb and flow of the communities assessed values.

    Shortly after the first collection in 2019 at $1.50 per thousand, districts could not afford to maintain normal operation, so the legislators made a change for 2020. Districts can now collect $2.50 per thousand of assessed value, but that still doesn't bring us back to the 2017 and 2018 level of support.

    There is no extra money. School districts statewide are reducing operations to meet the reduced revenue levels.

    For the capital levy, the district will collect a set amount and it will be divided between property owners.

    All of these education taxes are going to drive me out of my home, why is it always a new tax?

    It is unfortunate that this is how the state of Washington chooses to fund school construction. In the Sedro-Woolley School District, we have worked hard to keep our tax rates as low as possible. Even with the proposed increase to your taxes, we will still be one of the lowest in Skagit County.

    I have additional questions that have not been answered, how can I find answers?

    Please e-mail bond@swsd101.org and someone will answer your question as quickly as possible.


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