Three education measures that were placed on Pullman ballots appear to have been approved by voters following Tuesday’s special election.
The measures included a $15 million bond funding improvements at Lincoln Middle School as well as two levies supporting district operations. By the end of the day Tuesday, the bond and both levies appeared to have passed with more than 75 percent voter approval.
District officials have said approval of all measures represents no increase to the local tax rate.
“We’ve been trying our best to get the word out (that) there’s no tax rate increase on this bond and the levies,” said Larry Clark, a parent and co-chairman of Citizens for Pullman Schools. “We’ve been really hammering that message out there, and trying our best to make sure that people understand that it is crucial for the schools and that it won’t increase their tax rate.”
The tax rate of the bond is $2.78 per $1,000 in assessed valuation. The bond is scheduled to be paid off over the course of 20 years, and affects local taxes starting in January 2021 — just as another bond worth $15.4 million is set to retire.
The district ran two levies, which total $5.5 million a year. A four-year replacement enrichment levy is expected to generate $5.3 million a year at an estimated tax rate of $2.25 per $1,000 in assessed value. There’s also a four-year replacement technology levy that will bring in $200,000 annually at an estimated tax rate of 8 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation.
With all three measures approved, taxpayers with a $200,000 home would pay about $1,022 a year to support them. Clark said the passage of these measures is beneficial to all Pullman residents and not just those who have children.
“Schools are critical for the economic development of the community — even if you don’t have kids in school,” he said. “If you’re retired or you just don’t have any kids, you’re still hoping that you get the services and that companies like Schweitzer Engineering keep growing and good schools are a big draw for a lot of people.”
Levies must receive one vote greater than the 50-percent threshold to be approved, while bonds require a 60-percent supermajority vote. Additionally, for bonds to pass, voter turnout must be equal to or greater than 40 percent of that seen in the last election — or 2,295 people for the election in Pullman. 3,461 ballots were counted by the end of the day Tuesday.
While Tuesday’s numbers are promising, Whitman County Auditor Sandy Jamison cautioned there are still more ballots left to count. The final count will be certified on Feb. 21. The Auditor’s office will update the count at the end of the day as ballots continue to arrive in the mail, Jamison said.
“(Ballots) just have to be postmarked by today so we will get another whole batch tomorrow that are postmarked today,” she said. “And then, surprisingly, we get ballots the next two and three and four days that are still postmarked for today.”
Voters in Colfax, Colton, Palouse and Garfield also voted on school measures.
Below is a list of education measures that appeared on ballots in Whitman County listed by city, measure name, amount, term and vote tally.
Pullman — Lincoln Middle School Bond — $15 million — 20 years — 2,650 yes, 797 no
Pullman — replacement enrichment levy — $5.3 million — 4 years — 2,609 yes, 845 no
Pullman — replacement technology levy — $200,000 — 4 years — 2,737 yes, 710 no
Colfax — replacement programs and operations levy — $900,000 — 2 years — 572 yes, 286 no
Palouse — replacement programs and operations levy — $862,177 — 2 years — 304 yes, 122 no
Palouse — replacement capital levy for tech and facilities — $600,000 — 2 years — 297 yes, 132 no
Garfield — replacement programs and operations levy — $352,080 — 2 years — 137 yes, 37 no
Garfield — replacement capital levy for tech and facilities — $200,000 — 2 years — 135 yes, 37 no
Colton — replacement programs and operations levy — $398,947 — 1 year — 246 yes, 94 no
Each of these measures passed with more than 65 percent of the vote as of Tuesday evening.
Scott Jackson can be reached at (208) 883-4636, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.