Voters in five King County school districts are being asked to approve property taxes to support education on Tuesday.
Five King County school districts are asking voters to approve property taxes for education in a special Valentine’s Day levy election.
Many of the measures simply ask voters to renew their commitment to fund operations levies, which pay for basic school services. Others are capital levies, which fund building maintenance, or bond measures that pay for major school construction and renovation projects.
The Tuesday deadline for mailing in ballots represents the first time county voters have gone to the polls since the state Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature was not fulfilling its constitutional duty to fully fund education, forcing school districts to seek a large amount of their funding through levies.
But if that ruling was expected to reduce levy amounts, it won’t be apparent on Tuesday — the amounts are as high as ever, and some officials say they’re asking for more from voters on the assumption the Legislature will continue to cut its education budget.
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Federal Way School District officials are asking voters to approve the two-year operations-levy renewal at $53 million per year — nearly $5 in taxes for every $1,000 of assessed property value.
The $53 million annual amount of the $106 million measure is $8 million higher than that levy has been in the past. That’s because the district expects the amount of money it and other districts receive in state equalization funds to decrease, as threatened by some lawmakers.
If the cut doesn’t come to pass, the levy will be reduced to its historical amount, said Sally McLean, the district’s assistant superintendent.
The two-year time frame, shorter than usual, is also due to uncertainty surrounding levy equalization, McLean said.
Officials are also running a six-year, $60 million capital levy (between 74 cents and $1.12 per $1,000 of assessed value) that will mostly fund a major renovation at Federal Way High School.
In Auburn, a four-year, $146.4 million operations-levy renewal (between $4.05 and $4.45 per $1,000 of assessed value) is appearing on the ballot alongside a $110 million bond measure to mostly pay for modernizing Auburn High School.
The bond measure follows an unsuccessful 2009 attempt to get support for a larger building-renovation bond measure.
Superintendent Kip Herren said he’s hopeful this year’s measure will gain many more votes.
Renton voters are being asked to support three different measures: a four-year, $163 million operations-levy renewal (between $2.66 and $2.98 per $1,000 of assessed value); a four-year, $21 million renewal levy for technology (between 17 and 55 cents per $1,000 of assessed value) and a $97 million bond measure to mostly pay for a new middle school.
In 2008, when Renton last ran three measures on the ballot, they got two out of three — winning both levies but losing a bond measure to pay for renovation at Hazen High School. Officials are more confident this time around, district spokesman Randy Matheson said.
Two other measures are on the ballot: a four-year, $41.4 million operations-levy renewal (between $3.46 and $3.85 per $1,000 of assessed value) in Tukwila; and a four-year, $3.6 million renewal capital levy (39 cents per $1,000 of assessed value) in Vashon Island.
Levies must receive a majority of the vote for approval; bond measures require 60 percent.
Brian M. Rosenthal: 206-464-3195 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @brianmrosenthal.