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NKSD levy on its way
When North Kitsap voters mark their ballots in the general election this November, it wont be the last time theyll be asked to weigh in on an issue before the next one in November 2006 rolls around.
The North Kitsap School Districts maintenance and operations levy, passed by area voters in 2002, is nearing the end of its four-year life span, and the district is anticipating maintaining the same levy levels for the next four.
The levy provides $9.9 million in basic education funding, which includes financing for portions of the districts budgets in the following categories: teachers and support staff ($5.7 million), student learning improvements ($2 million), athletics, clubs and activities ($843,000), safety and maintenance ($795,000) and student transportation ($981,000).
North Kitsap, like many school districts, established a four-year levy when expenditures began outpacing revenues provided by the state and federal governments. Currently, the levy covers approximately 19 percent of the districts budget.
The district is planning informational sessions on the levy in October to educate the public both on how it works and to seek input on what the priorities for funding should be. In November, the school board will set a date for a vote, which is expected to take place sometime in February.
Preparing for a levy has NKSD Executive Director of Finance and Operations Nancy Moffatt and fellow administrators doing their best to peer into a financial crystal ball.
Its partly a mathematical science but also on a gut-feeling level as well, she said. We dont know what things are going to look like in four years.
NKSD has not yet announced how much funding it will seek, but Moffatt said it will likely be in the neighborhood of the previous levy. Voters in 2002 approved the levy for $2.70 per $1,000 in assessed property value.
But since the amount the district uses is a set number, when North Kitsaps property values fluctuate, the amount residents pay, too, goes up and down.
Assessed values in North Kitsap went from approximately $3.3 billion in 2002 to $4.2 billion in 2005, an increase of a little more than nine percent per year, according to Moffatt, who took an average of the numbers by the Kitsap Assessors Office.
That actually lowered a property owners collected amount to $2.38 per thousand of assessed value.
For example, if the value of a property is $100,000, the amount collected for the levy in 2002 would have been $2,700. If the value of the property spiked nine percent to $109,000, you would pay slightly more about $2,900 but the amount per thousand one would pay would decrease to the $2.38 number.
Another factor that will decrease the amount paid by NKs property owners is community growth. With Olhava and other developments filling in during the next few years, the base of levy payers will grow, resulting in a lower payment for each person.
As you get more tax payers, (funding the levy) is distributed among more partners, Moffatt said.
The levy requires a super-majority 60 percent of voter approval to pass. But Moffatt said she believes North Kitsap residents understand that by supporting the levy, theyre helping the overall community, and is confident in the districts chances.
Most people understand good schools make good communities, she said. There is an investment here for everybody.
The most recent school districts in the area that have gone to voters for levy funds are South Kitsap and Port Angeles. Sixty-four percent of voters said yes to meet the super-majority required to pass the levy in South Kitsap in February, extending it through 2009. Port Angeles passed its levy in May, with the stakes raised high: school sports would have been cut had it not been approved by voters.