The Pullman School Board gave unanimous approval to place three tax measures on ballots in February’s special election during a meeting Wednesday night.
The three measures include a $15 million bond supporting the expansion of Lincoln Middle School and a pair of replacement levies that would, together, take over for the district’s current $5.5 million enrichment levy. District officials emphasized with each measure replacing retiring bonds or levies, their approval represents little change to what a property owner pays in Pullman.
PSD Director of Operations Joe Thornton pointed out the bond funding improvements at LMS would replace a similar bond approved in the early 2000s.
“In 2019, our bond rate is $2.78 (per $1,000 of assessed property value) so that’s how much the taxpayers are paying currently in 2019,” PSD Finance Manager Diane Hodge told the board. “If we were to maintain that same rate, if assessed valuation didn’t increase at all, the LMS renovation would possibly cost us 8 cents (more) per $1,000, so our total new bond would be $2.86.”
A tax rate of $2.86 per $1,000 of assessed property value costs Pullman property owners with a home worth $200,000 about $570 annually.
The two levy items include a $5.3 million enrichment levy, formerly called a “maintenance and operations levy” and a $200,000 levy supporting technology upgrades in the classroom. Hodge said the two items together would replace a retiring enrichment levy worth $5.5 million that included technology funding.
“Currently, our maintenance and operations levy is $5.5 million,” Hodge said. “We’re reducing it to $5.3 million due to legislative changes and we’re moving that tech levy back into capital projects for $200,000.”
Hodge said the enrichment levy and the technology levy together will cost property owners around $2.33 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or about $466 for land valued at $200,000.
All told, the bond and levy items together will cost about $5.20 per $1,000 of assessed value, Hodge said, but if property valuations in Pullman increase even modestly, that amount will be lower.
While Hodge said the district’s projections are conservative and based on current valuations in Pullman, she pointed out that valuations increased by 0.79 percent just this past year. If all three items are approved by voters, they would come into effect in 2021 — potentially another two years of growth in property valuations.
Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to email@example.com.