9 Mid-Columbia school districts have levies on ballot

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 1, 2014 

Mid-Columbia school districts are appealing to voters to help keep art teachers in the classroom, coaches on the field and buildings in good working order.

Nine school districts in Benton and Franklin counties have renewals for their maintenance and operations, or M&O, levies on the ballot for the Feb. 11 special election.

The deadline is Jan. 13 to register by mail or online in order to vote in February. Registered voters who need to update their addresses or other information to vote also must do so by Jan. 13.

People who have never registered to vote in Washington can do so as late as Feb. 3, but will have to do it in person at their county auditor's office if it's after the Jan. 13 deadline.

M&O levies are used by most Washington school districts to fill the gap for school programs and activities not covered by state money.

That generally means things such as school nurses and counselors, art and athletic programs and building maintenance are partially covered by levies.

Most Mid-Columbia districts seek levy renewals every two years, though a few are seeking four-year levies. The districts have issued estimated tax rates for each levy but those rates can change if assessed property values fluctuate.

Here's a rundown of the levies that will be on the ballot in each county:

Benton County

-- Kennewick

The Kennewick School District is asking for $23.9 million in 2015 and $24.5 million in 2016 in its renewal levy.

The total collected by the district would be a combined total of $3 million more than the current two-year levy. The property tax rate is estimated to be $3.45 per $1,000 of assessed property value. That's $345 a year for a home assessed at $100,000.

-- Richland

The levy will collect $22 million in 2015 and $23 million in 2016 if approved by voters. The rate is expected to be $3.24 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $324 a year for a $100,000 home.

That's expected to bring in a combined total of about $4.3 million more than the current levy.

-- Prosser

The Prosser School District is one of the few districts in the region seeking a four-year renewal levy. It would collect $3.9 million in 2015, $4 million in 2016 , $4.1 million in 2017 and $4.2 million in 2018 if it is approved by voters.

The estimated annual tax rate for each year of the renewal would be $3 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $300 on a $100,000 home.

-- Finley

Finley school officials are seeking $1.8 million in 2015 and $1.85 million from the renewal levy. The estimated tax rate would be $4.15 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2015 and $4.18 in 2016.

That's about $415 a year for a $100,000 home the first year.

-- Grandview

Grandview School District, which serves a small portion of Benton County, is also seeking a four-year renewal levy. It would collect $1.34 million in 2015, $1.4 million in 2016, $1.5 million in 2017 and $1.6 million in 2018 if approved by voters.

Estimated tax rates would increase each year of the levy. The 2015 tax rate is expected to be $1.88 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $188 a year for a $100,000 home.

And the rate would grow to about $2.11 by the final year of the levy.

Franklin County

-- Pasco

The Pasco School District would collect $21.7 million in 2015 and $22.2 million in 2016. That's a combined total of about $3.5 million more than the district's current levy.

The estimated tax rate both year would be $4.51 per $1,000 in assessed property value. That's $450 per year for a house assessed at $100,000.

-- North Franklin

North Franklin school officials are asking voters for $1.98 million in 2015 and $2.1 million in 2016 in a renewal levy. The estimated tax rate both years would be $2.24 per $1,000 in assessed property value, or $224 a year for a $100,000 home.

-- Kahlotus

Kahlotus School District is asking for $75,000 in 2015 and 2016 from voters. If approved, the estimated tax rate is set at $1.62 per $1,000 in assessed property value the first year, or $162 for a $100,000 home.

The rate would drop to about $1.59 for the last year of the levy.

-- Washtucna

Washtucna School District, which serves a small portion of northeastern Franklin County, is asking for $150,000 in 2015 and 2016 from voters. The estimated tax rate would be $3.37 per $1,000 in assessed property value if the levy is approved. That would cost $337 a year for a $100,000 home.

w Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver; Google+: +TyBeaverTCHerald

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