Q: The Washington State legislature provided more money to schools. Why does Monroe School District (MSD) need this levy?
A: In July 2017 the Washington State Legislature made a decision to increase the amount of funding the state provides to schools and to reduce the amount of local taxes school districts can request and collect. This changes how school districts receive funding, but does not change the need for local levies. The Replacement SP&O levy allows MSD to maintain current programs and offerings not funded by the state.
The state’s new funding model is a step in the right direction, but it’s still a work in progress. Not all education costs are fully funded yet and the new shift in funding comes with restrictions that reduce local control of funds. Many of the programs and services we currently offer, such as special education, athletics and extracurricular activities, are not being funded by the state.
Q: What is the levy for? How much will it cost?
A: There will be one levy on the February 13, 2018 ballot—a Replacement of Expiring School Programs and Operations (SP&O) Levy. This replacement levy is not a new tax.
The Replacement SP&O Levy helps fund the following:
- School safety and security
- Student transportation
- Special education programs
- Student support programs
- Professional learning
- Extracurricular activities and athletics
- Operations and building maintenance costs
- Supplies and materials
If approved by voters, the Replacement SP&O Levy amount of $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value will generate funds through 2022.
For a property owner with an assessed value of $300,000, the replacement SP&O levy equals approximately $450 annually, or $37.50 a month. As more people move into the Monroe School District boundary, more property owners contribute to the total levy amount. It's important to note that as our community grows, we will continue to only collect the $1.50 per $1,000 from each household. This amount will generate more funds each year due to an increase in the number of taxpayers, which also increases assessment valuation.
Q: What happens if property values increase?
A: If this measure is approved by voters, no more than $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value can be collected from taxpayers. The limit of how much the school district may collect per year until the levy expires has a cap (see amount listed in right column below).
The district cannot collect more than the amount approved by voters. If property values rise, tax rates decrease so that the dollar amount you pay remains the same. The district does not receive a windfall as property values go up.
Q: Didn’t Monroe School District voters just approve school funding in 2015?
A: Monroe School District voters approved a Capital Projects Bond in 2015. That money is being used to build the new Park Place Middle School, modernize Salem Woods Elementary School, modernize and expand Frank Wagner Elementary and Hidden River Middle School, and for infrastructure and safety and security improvements throughout the entire district. The bond money can only be used for those projects approved by voters.
School funding can be confusing. A helpful thing to remember is that levies are for learning and bonds are for building. Levies support learning and the day-to-day operation of schools—think “L” for learning. Bonds provide for the construction and major maintenance of buildings—think “B” for building.
The last Maintenance and Operations Levy approved by Monroe voters was in 2014 and this four-year levy expires in 2018. This replacement of the expiring levy is needed to continue to support our growing number of students and current programs. It is not a new tax.
Q: How will this tax impact senior citizens?
A: Senior citizens and disabled persons may qualify for a tax exemption. More information about tax relief programs is available on the Snohomish County Assessor’s website or by calling 425-388-3433