Letter | Levies provide important funding to bridge gaps, run important programs

Dear Editor,

All of the press about the state now fully funding basic education is somewhat confusing.  When I first heard there would be replacement levies on the ballot in February to support our schools, I wondered if it was necessary. Then I looked more closely at the facts.

Last summer, the State Legislature voted to hire more teachers to lower K-3 class size and to increase funding for employee compensation.  This is great news. However, state funding still does not cover all the costs needed of running important programs, operations, and current levels of staff support.

We need these levies to maintain important educational programs and even to maintain the current level of services from our school nurses, counselors and support staff. Many programs and materials are directly tied to our local levies. This funding supports such quality programs such as our amazing music program, our innovative STREAM program, sports, and the arts. It also supports our buildings, classrooms, and school buses.

The technology levy will continue to update the schools aging computers and also provide access to all students by implementing a one-to-one computer initiative for students in grades 6-12 for school and home use, and classroom computers in grades K-5.   These are all critical in providing competitive educational opportunities for our students.

As a teacher in Snoqualmie Valley’s wonderful Parent Partnership Program, I see evidence daily of how our district works to support the best educational opportunities for all of our students. Our award-winning school district is a quality organization that is fiscally responsible.  These levies provide important funding to bridge the funding gap from the state of Washington.

Please join me in voting yes on these levies in February.

Alexandra Clark

2016 Educator of the Year

Comments

  1. Robert Svilpa says:

    This is all ridiculously confusing – I understand that the SVSD is only directly involved in the levy renewal – but with all the publicity regarding McCleary and the State’s property tax hikes (which Snoqualmie sees a significant increase) I don’t have any kind of picture whatsoever of what the impact is to myself and my budget. I’m feeling like there’s a range of impact on us anywhere from 20% to 35% on my total property tax bill but with each stakeholder in each piece refusing to address the overall picture, and no one person taking the lead to calculate it out – any decision making that requires data is seriously impeded.
    Furthermore, this number I’m asking for above doesn’t even factor in the big “tax reform” with its’ limits on property tax and state sales tax deductions to $10k/yr starting in 2019 (*which screws all of us over here significantly) – the economics of living west of the Cascades and specifically in King County continue towards unsustainable.
    I have 3 boys – 2 in SVSD, 1 at Mt Si. I am also a big advocate of education and the need to build a skilled workforce sufficiently armed with STEM knowledge so that we don’t need to look overseas for skilled tech workers – no slight intended against those who are in the visa worker category. But right now it feels like there are so many different people reaching in to grab their $0.44/$1000 or whatever amount, and we determine only after everyone’s grabbed their bit that we’re completely broke as a result.
    Anyone here gone through the calculation and determined the final cost/percentage impact of all these imperatives? And I don’t want to see the comparison of 2017 vs. 2019 since the big impact is going to be in 2018…

    • Danna McCall says:

      Robert – King Co has published the 2018 tax rates for properties. If you know your assessed value for 2018 I believe you should be able to calculate your property tax bill for 2018 and the increase. I just found mine and the increase is approximately 21%. ~ Danna

  2. Robert Svilpa says:

    Thanks Danna – I’ve been surfing through the KC tax assessor site – particularly the “Levy distribution comparison by year” since this represents the entire property tax portion as charged by King County (who collects the tax and then distributes it to City, School District, Hospital, etc… just for clarity) and then shows how the funds are distributed out through the pie charts.
    There is a significant increase in the State School Fund portion between 2017 and 2018 – from $2.09/$1000 (16.1% of every dollar you pay) to $2.92/$1000 (22.56% of every dollar). On the surface of it that’s a pretty big leap, but as a net overall increase of per dollar value it only represents a 10.55% increase. Now this is the effect of McCleary on a per dollar impact.

    If we tack on the .44/$1000 – it seems like a lot but considering it against the total levy assessed for your property tax, it’s a 3.4% increase on your tax bill. This is where I’ll actually now say I endorse the SVSD Levy since it’s not a huge increase but provides a significant impact on our kids’ education and well being. I will suggest that we should do an audit of how ALL the funds coming from city and school district levies, plus all money from the state is being used and if it’s being allocated effectively.

    Where most people are going to get the big sticker shock is when the assessor comes back with the updated assessed value of your home for 2018. We all know property values are skyrocketing – between 2014 and 2017 my own property went up 24.75% in assessed value, and with a home on my humble cul de sac selling for a much higher value last year than it’s assessed value, my home’s property value will most assuredly leap upwards significantly in 2018.

    If SVSD and the city’s budget is getting annual improvements in the incoming money through market inflation, and we are still finding it difficult to meet funding requirements for services provided for by the city – we really need to look deeply at how the money is being allocated/used by each of them to ensure that it is being earmarked for exactly what it is intended for. People are starting to talk in the various public places – restaurants/pubs and shops around town – asking these very questions and starting to get pretty disgruntled about what is seen as some opacity in the reporting of these items. Given that politics is a pretty polarizing thing for most people, it’s surprising the amount of unity I am hearing across the spectrum with regards to this issue and the ever increasing requests for funding.

    Why is this a big issue? The compound impact of both the increased levies and the property valuation increases are frightening – using 2017 assessed values my mortgage payment will go up almost $100 for both McCleary and SVSD levy increases.

    Remember – this isn’t factoring in the services improvements the City of Snoqualmie wants to implement that will add to our bills – that will be over and above what is being added in right now.

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