A $750,000 levy to pay for new portable classrooms at the Kiona-Benton City School District’s elementary and middle schools will go before voters in February.
The school board unanimously approved putting the levy on the ballot during its meeting Monday. If voters approve, it would be in effect for six years, collecting $125,000 a year in property taxes.
The portable classrooms currently in use are in bad shape and some have needed to be taken out of use, district administrators said, making new portables a particularly high priority.
The district had to remove five portable classrooms because of a black mold infestation. The remaining six portables have from poor insulation, crumbling carpet and aging heating and cooling systems.
“I went to class in all those portables, that’s how old they are,” Superintendent Wade Haun told the Herald.
Depending on market conditions, the district could get 10 portables with the levy amount, said Kim Scott, the district’s business manager. Many districts are looking to add space quickly after voters approved a statewide initiative last month to reduce class sizes.
“There’s going to be a lot of competition (for portables),” Scott said.
The levy, if approved, would cost 20 cents per $1,000 in assessed property value for each of first two years. The rate would drop to 19 cents per $1,000 for the next two years and 18 cents for the last two years.
A property owner with a home assessed at $150,000 would pay $30 a year at the peak rate.
The capital levy rate is worth roughly the amount the district’s maintenance and operations levy rate dropped in the past year, district officials said. That means that it would put local taxes back at about last year’s level.
“From the few people we’ve spoken to, we think (the voters) will support it,” Haun said.
The school board also elected 2015 officers Monday night. Board President Tim Cook, Vice President Leslie Johnson, WIAA representative Wayne Elston and legislative representative Ivan Howard were all unanimously voted back into their positions.