The purpose of a Maintenance and Operations levy is to provide general operating funds that supplement state and federal funding for public schools. Levies were intended to provide for extras beyond basic education, but have become a significant funding source for most school districts due to diminishing funding from the state and federal government. The Kettle Falls School Board of Directors will place a four year Maintenance and Operations Levy Renewal before the voters on February 10, 2015. The current levy expires at the end of 2015 and accounts for 17% of the district budget. The renewal will continue funding needed to sustain programs and services. Currently 95% of all schools in Washington State are collecting local levy money.
What the levy pays for:
- Bridges the gap between state and federal funding and the actual cost to run a school district
- 55% of levy dollars go towards staff costs
- Classroom supplies and textbooks
- Safety and security
- Transportation costs
- Facility Maintenance
- Extracurricular activities and athletics
- Music Program
- Roofing Projects
How much will the renewal M&O levy cost?
The replacement of the existing School Maintenance and Operations Levy authorizes for a four-year levy: $1,459,925 per year. The estimated tax rates per $1,000 of assessed property value are $3.02.
What are levy limits?
School districts are limited by the State of Washington in the amount of funding it can receive through local levy dollars. The district cannot legally collect more than 28% of the funding it receives through specific state and federal programs. It also cannot use money from capital project funds or bonds to pay for general operations. With our $1,459,925 we are asking for 15.9% of our allowed levy limit.
Why is this called a “Replacement M&O Levy”?
The ballot measure is titled a “replacement” levy because this is not a new tax request. Instead, this measure is asking voters to continue the four-year educational program levy they approved in 2011. However, it does represent an increased levy amount.
Will this cost more than I am paying now?
Yes. The previous levy that passed in 2011 was for $1,092,000 at a rate per $1,000 of $2.59. The School Board approved, and community endorsed addition of: a music program, an extra teacher, curriculum adoptions, maintaining bus routes, technology upgrades, fixing the leaky roof at the High School, and other increases make up this difference.
Here are some levy facts:
- Previous levy (2011) tax rate: $2.59
- Current proposed levy (2015) tax rate: $3.02
- This is a .43 cent increase per $1,000.
- For a home assessed at $100,000: $43 annual increase (or $3.58 per month)
- For a home assessed at $200,000: $86 annual increase (or $7.16 per month)
Does everyone have to pay for the levy?
Senior citizens age 61 or older may be eligible for an exemption on all or part of levy taxes. For more information on discounts and exemptions, please call your county assessor (Stevens County Assessor: 509-684-6161, or Ferry County Assessor: 509-775-5205).
What is State Levy Equalization Assistance (LEA)?
The total value of all taxable property within the school district is called its “assessed value.” The lower the overall assessed property value in a school district, the higher the property tax rate. Levy equalization is an adjustment made by the state to level the playing field across the state and reduce the greater tax burden on property owners within school districts that have a lower average assessed valuation than the statewide average – the situation here in Kettle Falls.
Does Kettle Falls School District benefit from LEA funding?
Yes. The school district receives this state funding because it is considered a “property poor” district – a district with a high tax rate due to low assessed property values. In other words, the tax rate required in Kettle Falls to generate local levy dollars per student is higher than the statewide average tax rate needed to generate the same revenue.