QSD begins push for replacement levy
The countdown to Feb. 12 has begun for the Quincy School District.
That day the district will find out if a replacement levy is approved by local voters.
The new levy would replace an existing one that expires in January 2020, so it’s not a new tax, said the school district superintendent, John Boyd. It has a new name: EP&O (Educational Programs and Operations) instead of M and O (Maintenance and Operations) levy.
The levy would run three years until 2022, starting at $7.141 million in the first year and reaching $8.462 million on the last year.
The levy requires a 50 percent approval rate from the voters in order to pass. Levy money will fund things like athletics, technology, school safety, counseling, enrichment programs, arts, music, library programs, maintenance, transportation, special education, books, early childhood education and college-level classes and college trips.
It funds everything that makes the high school experience an experience, Boyd said, and makes Quincy unique.
“The levy is spread across a lot of different programs,” Boyd said. “It pays for things that the state doesn’t fully fund or doesn’t fund at all.”
The Washington Legislature has reduced the amount any school district could collect to $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value, so if the levy passes, it will collect at a rate that is less than half what the district used to collect in 2012 ($3.06 per $1,000).
If the new levy passes, the district will begin collecting at the new rate in the last year of the existing levy, 2019.
Nevertheless, Boyd said Quincy is lucky, given its high assessed values. Districts such as Ephrata’s don’t collect nearly as much for $1.50 per every $1,000 of assessed value.
The difference lies in the data centers, which will pay for about 50.2 percent of the EP&O levy.
“Microsoft alone owns about 25 percent of the assessed values of Quincy, over $1 billion worth of assessed value. Boeing, believe it or not, owns about $200 million worth of assessed value,” Boyd said. “So of the 15 largest companies, 13 of them are data centers and they represent $2.25 billion out of $4.2 billion worth of assessed value.
If the levy fails at the ballot box, the district can take multiple tries to get it passed. About 16 percent of the operating budget takes a hit if the levy fails altogether.
“It would make us unable to provide those things that we do above and beyond what the state pays for,” Boyd said. “We would try to maintain to the extent we can the programs we have, but we would have to be barebones in a lot of things.”
A presentation on this year’s levy is available at https://www.youtube.com. In the search field, type “EP&O levy Quincy,” and a video titled “Levy EP O Presentation 2018” should appear.
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org