Granger, Zillah seek more than state levy limit

Administrators say state not clear on rule, await changes


Doug Burge

— While the Grandview and Prosser School Districts are going by the new rules on Maintenance and Operations levies, Granger and Zillah are not.

Prosser and Grandview are running special levy elections on Feb. 13 asking for $1.50 per $1,000 of property value. That is the limit the state legislature set for the 2019 and 2021 tax years and beyond.

But there has been confusion among school administrators ever since. Administrators asked for changes or clarifications this session of the legislature. Some districts say the rule is already in effect. Others say it is not.

Granger is asking its voters for $249 per $1,000 of property value for 2019, 2020 and 2021. That is the rate of the current levy. There was no one at Granger Monday to speak about the rule.

Zillah is asking $2.00 per $1,000. Basically, Superintendent Doug Burge said, his district wants to be in position to collect $2.00 if the voters approve and the legislature makes the hoped-for changes.

Otherwise, he said, if the $1.50 per $1,000 rule prevails, $1.50 will be all the district can collected. The voters would be liable for $2.00 or less if they approve the levy as requested, Burge said.

The $2.00 rate would bring in just under $900,000 per year locally, Burge added.

Generally, Burge said, the levy is used to fund programs state basic education won’t fund or won’t fund entirely. At Zillah, those include extra-curricular activities, activity trips and instructional materials.

Granger Business Manager Bic Hall noted passage of this levy means a lot of money to Granger. It approved, it would bring in $626,000 annually locally. The state would add $1.9 million annually from its levy equalization program.

Hall said levy funds are used for technology, instructional materials, curriculum and activities, among other things.

The law, passed by the legislature last July 6 and signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, modified how the levy lid will be calculated beginning with taxes levied for collection in 2019.

Instead of setting the levy lid as a percentage of each district’s basic education allocation, the maximum general fund levy will be the lesser of $2,500 per pupil or $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value.

As with prior levy lids, RCW 84.52.0531 outlines the process for deriving a district’s maximum levy amount under the new formula.


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