Frequently Asked Questions about the Replacement Levy
What is a levy?
Levies pay for day-to-day operations of schools including teachers, textbooks, supplies and co/extracurricular programs. They are a way for local communities to supplement state funding, which falls short of providing for all that is required. Currently in Central Valley, the local levy funds approximately 22 percent of the annual budget, filling the gap between state and federal funds and maintaining essential educational programs for more than 12,600 students in 22 schools.
Is this a new tax?
No. The School Programs and Operations Replacement Levy will renew and replace the current levy, which expires in December 2012.
What is the current tax rate?
The Spokane County Assessor's office has set the 2012 levy tax rate at $3.54 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation for Central Valley School District.
Will any of this money be used to remodel or build new schools?
No. The February ballot measure is a replacement levy to pay for day-to-day school operations. A construction bond is a separate ballot measure. Bonds are used to remodel and build new schools. Central Valley is not running another construction bond this year.
What is the cost to taxpayers?
The levy would provide $27,100,000 in 2013, 2014 and 2015 to maintain essential educational programs for students across the district. The proposed levy tax rate is estimated to be $4.19 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This assumes that all state levy equalization funding is eliminated. If levy equalization funding is received, the levy tax rate will remain unchanged from the 2012 rate at $3.54 per $1,000.
What is levy equalization?
A voter-approved local levy brings state matching funds to Central Valley through levy equalization (also known as LEA). Levy equalization is intended to level the playing field between property-rich and property-poor school districts, providing funding in lieu of local taxes in districts with lower property values than the statewide average. Currently, Central Valley receives about $4.3 million in levy equalization, representing about four percent of the annual operating budget.
Although it is not a new tax, will the proposed levy increase my tax rate?
Given the sobering financial news from Olympia and the anticipated loss of levy equalization funding beginning in 2013, the proposed Central Valley levy assumes no state levy equalization relief for local taxpayers. This means the levy tax rate will increase an estimated 65¢ per $1,000 due to the expected loss of levy equalization. If state levy equalization revenue is received, the levy tax rate will remain unchanged at the 2012 levy tax rate of $3.54 per $1,000.
What is a tax roll-back?
When voters approved the levy amounts for 2010, 2011 and 2012, it was with the expectation that if the state continued to fund levy equalization, the difference would be "rolled back" to local taxpayers by leaving a portion of the taxes uncollected. Over the past three years, the district has honored this commitment by "rolling back" (leaving uncollected) the following levy taxes: $4.5 million (2010), $6.2 million (2011) and $4.4 million (2012). This means a lower levy tax rate for district taxpayers.
Is this the right time to be asking the community for funding?
The current levy expires in December 2012, which means the district must seek voter approval now to renew the levy for three more years. Given the uncertainty of state funding, voter support of the levy is even more important to sustain and maintain essential educational programs for Central Valley children.
Why are sports included in the levy? Don’t participation fees cover the cost?
Central Valley initiated participation fees for middle and high school athletes several years ago. These fees pay for a fraction of the cost of sports programs (about 6 percent), with the remainder covered by the levy.
What happens if the replacement levy does not pass?
If voters do not approve the levy, the annual operating budget would be reduced by about $27 million, resulting in fewer teachers, larger class sizes, elimination of extra and co-curricular activities, and reduction and/or elimination of educational programs. As one of the Valley’s largest employers, a failed levy would result in lost jobs and have a negative impact on the local economy.