Voters will soon determine the fate of two four-year replacement levies for the Riverview School District during the Feb. 8 special election.
Levies make up about 18% of the annual operating budget, according to the RSD website. If passed, the proposal would replace expiring levies that were approved by voters in 2018.
“These new levy propositions are not new taxes. Rather, they simply replace levies which are expiring and require a simple majority of voter approval (50%),” the RSD website states.
RSD serves communities in the lower Snoqualmie Valley, such as Carnation and Duvall.
The Education Programs and Operations Levy (Proposition 1) would fund expenses not typically covered by the State of Washington including special education, counselors, nurses, security, athletics and extracurricular programs. The proposal states that funds might also be used for instructional materials, specialized programs, transportation, instructional staff or facility maintenance.
The Technology Capital Projects Levy (Proposition 2) directs funding toward technology for students across the district. It would cover learning technology such as software licensing, student devices and classroom upgrades. The levy would also be used to enhance school safety and network infrastructure, sustain necessary technology staffing, and provide training related to technology integration.
“Levies are crucial in maintaining the services, educational opportunities, technology and staffing required for our students to achieve success,” the proposition states. “School districts rely on levies to fill in the ‘gaps’ between what the state does and does not directly fund. Every four years, the Riverview School District, and districts across the state, ask voters to renew levies to continue maintaining opportunities to provide educational experiences our students, staff and families expect and deserve.”
If approved, the tax rate for the EP&O Levy for 2023-26 would remain the same at $1.45 per $1,000 of assessed property value, according to an RSD report. For the Tech Levy, the tax rate will decrease by 3 cents each year, starting at 64 cents, until 2026.
The total tax rate, if approved, will be $2.09 in 2023, $2.06 in 2024, $2.03 in 2025, and $2 in 2026 per every $1,000 in assessed property value.
The tax rate is seemingly lower than previously passed propositions such as a $2.31 in 2019, $2.36 in 2020, $2.19 in 2021, and $1.87 in 2022.
In 2020, the King County Assessor’s Office reported that the median home price in Carnation was $493,000 and $551,000 in Duvall.
Some parents and residents within the district are questioning the monetary amount in taxes RSD is requesting from the community.
“Lived here for 50 years, I’m for a good education but slowly but surely am getting taxed out of Carnation,” one resident wrote on a Facebook post. “My house is almost 40 years old, property taxes [increased] $900 in 2019 and continue to rise. I thought they would even out with all the development and new homes but that hasn’t happened.”
If the EP&O Levy passes, it’s estimated that about $8.7 million will be collected in 2023. According to RSD school board meeting notes from November, the amount will increase to $9.1 million in 2024, $9.5 million in 2025, and $10 million in 2026.
The Tech Levy would amass an estimated $3.8 million every year for four years, if approved by voters, according to board meeting notes.
“Schools do not receive more money as property values increase. Levies are based on a fixed dollar amount, not a percentage of assessed property value. When voters approve a levy, they authorize the school district to collect a fixed dollar amount,” according to RSD. “As property values increase, and more people share in paying that fixed amount, the combined local tax rate for schools stays about the same or often decreases. If property values decrease, then the opposite happens because of the fixed dollar amount to be collected.”
RSD spent about $14,001 per student for the 2019-20 school year, according to data from the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. From 2017-2020, the number of students in the school district decreased by 323. Another 261 students unenrolled from the start of the pandemic to Oct. 1, 2021.