Frequently Asked Levy Questions
Why do we have levies?
Levies are crucial funding sources for school districts in Washington. They allow us to offer programs and services that our community expects, but which aren’t fully funded by the state. Levy funds help us provide robotics programs, transportation, additional teaching staff to lower class sizes, support special education, provide meal programs, provide full-time counselors at every school, support athletics and activities, and much more.
Is this a new tax?
No. This is a replacement of the current levy, which expires this year. This is not a new tax, and it is smaller than the expiring levy.
How much are you asking us to approve?
The Board of Directors has approved a resolution asking for up to $3.3 million in 2019 and $3.5 million in 2020. The levy rate will not exceed $1.50 per thousand under current state law. The expiring levy provides up to $5.625 million at a rate of about $2.73 per thousand.
Didn’t we just approve school funding last year?
In 2017 voters overwhelmingly approved a $74 million bond to construct two new elementary schools and to modernize Centralia High School. These funds can only be used for construction, not for district operations or academics.
Didn’t the McCleary Decision “fix” state funding for education?
To an extent. McCleary has resulted in increased state funding for basic education, but not for anything beyond basic. While increasing statewide funding for basic education, the state legislature has also limited our ability to collect local levy funds for additional programs and services.
How do the levy changes affect Centralia?
The legislature dramatically changed school districts’ abilities to levy local taxes to support additional programs and services at the local level. Our 2015-2018 levy in Centralia is currently at about $2.73 per thousand in assessed value. Under the new guidelines, districts are limited to collecting $1.50 per thousand or $2,500 per student, whichever is smaller. At $1.50 per thousand we will be able to collect less than $900 per student. Levy equalization will bring us up to a maximum of $1,500 per student. Meanwhile, property rich school districts will be able to collect up to $2,500 from their local levies.
Our expiring levy provides up to $5.625 million in funding each year. The replacement levy will provide up to $3.3 million in 2019 and $3.5 million in 2020. This means local taxes for education will be lower in 2019 than in 2018, but it also means that when additional state funding for basic education is taken into account, our district may not be seeing a net increase in funding at all.
Are senior citizens exempt?
Some are. If your gross income from all sources is under $40,000 you may be exempt from this tax. Check with your county assessor for more information.
I still have questions, how can I get answers?
Easy! Simply email us or contact our district office at 360-330-7600