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WBCSD seeks renewal of levy

by DAILY BEE STAFF
| April 19, 2023 1:00 AM

There are no surprises in the West Bonner County School District's upcoming levy on May 16.

In fact, interim WBCSD Superintendent Susie Luckey said the district uses the phrase renewal levy since it would replace one approved by voters in 2021.

"The district uses the term 'renewal' because that is essentially what it is," Luckey said.

The proposed levy is $4.7 million per year for two years — roughly 33% of the district's annual operating budget. It heads to voters on May 16 and would replace the current two-year levy, which expires June 30.

"West Bonner County School District strives to offer quality education for our students," Luckey said. "Please remember to Vote on Tuesday, May 16."

With a number of new residents to the district, Luckey said WBCSD has been receiving a number of questions about the levy.

Below are those questions and the district's answers.

Q: Why do I have to pay local property taxes for schools? Doesn’t the state and federal funding take care of this?

A: The district utilizes a supplemental levy to make up the difference between state and federal funding and local needs. In Idaho, in 2006, the Idaho Legislature changed the way schools were funded. Before 2006, all property owners were taxed 3% specifically for school funding. In order to provide property tax relief statewide, the 3% tax was taken away and school funding would be generated by the addition of a one-cent sales tax that went specifically to schools. The result: Lost revenue for public schools, thus the need for replacing lost revenue by asking voters for supplemental levy funding.

Q: What exactly is the supplemental levy renewal?

A: The supplemental levy funds approximately a third of WBCSD’s operating costs. The estimated cost for the proposed levy is $115.95 per $100,000 of taxable assessed value. For example, a home assessed at $393,000 after the $150,000 homeowner's exemption would pay $281.76 annually or a little less than $23.50 a month.

Q: Why is the amount per thousand less with this levy? If the proposed levy is more, then how can the tax rate be less?

A: There has been an increase in property assessments and evaluations in the district, including the sale of lease lots at Priest Lake. Because of this, even though property values have increased, there are now more properties in the county.

Q: What will the levy fund?

A: The supplemental levy renewal is a $4.7 million per year with a two-year replacement levy.

Supplemental levy funds will be allocated each year for:

  1. Salaries and benefits to recruit and retain qualified teachers, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, and other support staff.
  2. A school resource officer and safety and security facility improvements.
  3. Athletics, co-curricular and extracurricular activities
  4. Textbooks, learning materials and staff training
  5. School bus acquisition

Q: Where can I find out more information about West Bonner County School District's supplemental levy?

Answer: Information is updated regularly online at SD83.org/levy-information. Residents also can email Susie Luckey at susieluckey@sd83.org or call the district office at 208-448 4439 for further information.