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Posted on Nov 24, 2014

Replacement M&O school levy to be on February ballot

The Quincy School District last week began the first of what are sure to be several discussions about a proposed maintenance and operations levy that will be on the February ballot.

The school district will ask voters to approve a four-year levy that will generate about $7.7 million a year. This is not a new levy; the levy would be replacing the current M&O levy that expires at the end of 2015.

The proposed levy, which would begin in 2016 if passed, is lower than the current M&O levy. The school district is proposing a tax levy of $3.05 per $1,000 of assessed property value. So the owner of a $150,000 home in Quincy would pay $457 a year.

The current tax levy rate is $3.32 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $498 a year for the owner of a $150,000 home.

The replacement levy rate, if passed, is estimated to decrease over three years. It would be about $2.91 in 2017, $2.77 in 2018 and $2.65 in 2019. However, by the end of 2019 it would generate $8.4 million.

The school district operates on a $30.1 million budget. The levy accounts for about 23 percent of that budget.

“We feel fortunate (the public) has supported levies in the past,” Superintendent John Boyd said at a school board meeting last week.

Over the years, school districts across the state have grown increasingly dependent on replacement M&O levies.

“Local school levies are the means used by public school districts around the state to pay for programs and activities that are not adequately funded by state, federal or local resources,” Boyd wrote in his presentation to the school board. “When district voters approve the levy, they agree to provide school funding through a portion of their property tax.”

The levy funds go toward basic operating costs, including paying for textbooks, classroom supplies, technology, utilities, and insurance and maintenance costs, as well as underfunded programs, such as special education, enrichment and school bus transportation. The funds also help cover the costs of co-curricular programs, student activities and athletics, Boyd explained.

A levy advisory committee consisting of about 30 parents, community members and district employees came up with two tax scenerios to present to the school board.  Both started at under $3.15. The board decided to pursue the $3.05 rate.

Boyd compared the proposed levy rate to the levy rate paid by Ephrata School District taxpayers. In Ephrata, taxpayers pay $4.51 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The lower rate proposed is attributed to the increased tax base from the data centers in Quincy, Boyd said. The area has seen a $1.3 billion increase in assessed property values since 2008.

 

— By Kurtis J. Wood, sports@qvpr.com

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