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Decision day nears on NKSD levy, port district expansion

Christine Fraser, co-president of the North Kitsap Education Association, urges a passerby to vote yes on renewal of the school district’s maintenance and operations levy, one of the measures on the Feb. 11 ballot. Fraser and other levy supporters campaigned in downtown Kingston on Feb. 5.                                 - Kipp Robertson
Christine Fraser, co-president of the North Kitsap Education Association, urges a passerby to vote yes on renewal of the school district’s maintenance and operations levy, one of the measures on the Feb. 11 ballot. Fraser and other levy supporters campaigned in downtown Kingston on Feb. 5.
— image credit: Kipp Robertson

By KIPP ROBERTSON
and RICHARD WALKER
Herald staff

POULSBO — Tania Issa is confident North Kitsap residents will renew the school district’s maintenance and operations levy on the Feb. 11 ballot. Issa and the school district have disseminated information to voters since the campaign got under way.

She’s the campaign chairwoman and the mother of five students in North Kitsap School District schools, and she believes the support for the levy is there.

“I do believe we’re going to win,” she said. The district is one of four in Kitsap County to have property tax levy on the February ballot. South Kitsap School District is the one district without a levy on the ballot.

However, the only factor in the February election that seems to worry Issa is the Port of Poulsbo’s proposed annexation. Though she isn’t against the annexation, which would expand the port’s boundaries to more closely match Poulsbo’s city limits, she does question why the port decided to put it on the ballot in February.

The port is asking residents of Lemolo, Scandia, Virginia Point and parts of Poulsbo to join the port district, which means they’d pay a tax levy of 30 cents for every $1,000 of assessed property valuation. She hopes that doesn’t affect voters’ decision to support the school district’s levy.

“I do have concerns about running the Port of Poulsbo expansion at the same time,” Issa said. “It was a poor decision,” adding that the port should have run its measure in April. School district levies are typically run in February and school district budgets are adopted in May.

If the school district levy is not approved, the school district would need to try again in April. “We’re kind of up against the clock, not too many options,” Issa said.

The district’s current levy generated about $14.3 million for 2013. The school district relies on the levy for 23 percent of the district’s approximate $60 million budget.

If renewed, property owners would be taxed $2.83 per $1,000 of assessed home valuation, generating $16.5 million for the school district in 2015.

Of the levy money, about 25 cents on the dollar goes to teaching staff; about 24 cents on the dollar goes to classified staff. The rest goes to materials, supplies and operating costs (17 cents), special education (8 cents), transportation (8 cents), certification administrator salaries and benefits (8 cents), extracurricular activities and athletics (6 cents), all-day kindergarten (1), special programs (1), the pool (1), and the copy center (1).

Dave Lambert, owner and operator of Slippery Pig Brewery, said his business benefits from a busy Port of Poulsbo Marina. He believes other businesses do too — from dollars spent locally and jobs that are created.

That’s why he decided to chair the committee supporting the Poulsbo Port District’s proposed expansion, on the Feb. 11 ballot as Port of Poulsbo Proposition 1.

The port’s boundaries “should be keeping up with the city,” he said. “Some of the people outside the city, the support is not necessarily there, which I totally understand. But they gain a lot from the port also.”

Lambert — who joined the campaign long after the Port Commission included Lemolo, Scandia and Virginia Point in the proposed annexation area — said he’s “pretty undecided” on whether that was a good move. “I really think that the port district should keep up with the city limits, for sure. [The port] really does mean a lot to the city of Poulsbo.”

— This version corrects the number of children Tania Issa has in North Kitsap public schools. The number was incorrect in the second paragraph.

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