Voters approve school levies in special election

Tri-City HeraldFebruary 11, 2014 

ballot drop kennewick vote democracy in action

Ron Louderback of Kennewick drops his ballot off on Tuesday at the Benton County Auditor's Annex on 5600 W. Canal Dr. in Kennewick. You have until 8 p.m. to drop off ballots in person and ballots need to be postmarked by Tuesday to count.

KAI-HUEI YAU — Tri-City Herald Buy Photo

Levies up for renewal in Mid-Columbia school districts were approved by voters in Tuesday’s special election.

And district officials said they were still happy to have the community’s support.

“We have a great community,” said Richland School Board Chairwoman Phyllis Strickler. “I think the results are in line with what we’ve seen in the past.”

Most Washington school districts have maintenance and operations, or M&O, levies. The money is used to fill the gap in funding left after districts use state and federal dollars, with as much as 20 percent of a district’s budget coming from its levy.

Levy dollars go to a variety of purposes, but generally pay for athletic and arts programs and maintenance needs. The money is also used for salaries for school nurses and counselors and some teachers.

Richland’s two-year renewal levy, which will collect $22 million in 2015 and $23 million in 2016, was receiving almost 65 percent approval.

Levies require just more than 50 percent to pass.

Kennewick’s levy for $23.9 million in 2015 and $24.5 million in 2016 had 62 percent approval.

Pasco’s levy was passing with 54 percent approval. Its levy will collect $21.7 million in 2015 and $22.2 million in 2016

Less than a third of registered voters in each county turned in ballots for the special election, according to figures from auditors’ offices.

The single issue on the ballot might have not drawn enough interest for people to turn out to vote, said Kennewick School Board President Dawn Adams. The winter weather also may have played a factor.

But Adams said she was still grateful to voters. “Our community has never failed us,” she said.

Voters around the Mid-Columbia — Finley, Prosser, North Franklin and Kahlotus — also approved their levies.

Here are Tuesday’s night preliminary results for area school districts:

- Kennewick: 62 percent yes.

-- Richland: 65 percent yes.

-- Prosser: 69 percent yes.

-- Finley: 59 percent yes.

-- Pasco: 54 percent yes.

-- North Franklin: 66 percent yes.

-- Kahlotus: 79 percent yes.

-- Grandview: 58 percent yes.

-- Othello: 52 percent yes.

-- Ty Beaver: 509-582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @_tybeaver

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