Frequently Asked Questions
Feb. 8, 2022 Educational Programs & Operations and Technology Levies Replacements
Q: What are the levies for? How much will they cost?
A: There will be two levy measures on the Feb. 8, 2022 ballot—an Educational Programs & Operations Levy and a Capital Technology Levy. These replace expiring levies and are not new taxes.
Replacement Educational Programs & Operations Levy
The replacement Educational Programs & Operations Levy helps fund the following:
- Student mental health support professionals
- School safety and security
- Early learning programs
- Special education programs
- Student transportation
- Professional learning
- Substitute personnel
- Supplies and materials
- Extracurricular activities and athletics
If approved by voters, the Educational Programs & Operations Levy will be a variable rate that averages $1.95 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This will generate approximately:
- $18.15 million in 2023 (estimated $1.92 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
- $19.80 million in 2024 (estimated $1.94 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
- $21.55 million in 2025 (estimated $1.96 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
- $23.60 million in 2026 (estimated $1.98 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
For a property owner with an assessed value of $500,000, this equals approximately $974.73 annually, or $81.22 a month.
In 2021, a property owner with an assessed value of $500,000 is paying approximately $830.00 annually. If the EP&O levy is renewed, this would be an average increase of approximately $145.00 annually, or $12.08 per month.
Replacement Capital Technology Levy
The replacement Technology Levy will provide funding for:
- Classroom technology to maintain 1:1 devices for students
- Replacement of classroom technology and aging devices
- Professional learning
- Technical support
- Infrastructure upgrades, including network, bandwidth and phones
- Innovative technology
The replacement Technology Levy is a capital levy and falls under different guidelines than the Educational Programs & Operations Levy. If approved by voters, the Technology Levy will average $0.24 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This will generate $10 million over four years.
- $2.5 million in 2023 (estimated $0.26 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
- $2.5 million in 2024 (estimated $0.24 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
- $2.5 million in 2025 (estimated $0.23 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
- $2.5 million in 2026 (estimated $0.21 per $1,000 of assessed property value)
For a property owner with an assessed value of $500,000, this equals approximately $118 annually, or $9.86 a month.
In 2021, a property owner with an assessed value of $500,000 is paying approximately $130.00 annually. If the Technology levy is renewed, this would be an average decrease of approximately $10.00 annually, or $0.83 per month.
As more people move into the Lake Stevens School District boundary, more property owners contribute to the total levy amount. This means that each property owner will likely pay less.
Q: How are tax amounts determined for property owners?
A: Each property owner pays a different amount of taxes because the assessed value for each property is different. Lake Stevens School District can only collect the amount approved by voters—no matter how much assessed values increase. As more people move into the Lake Stevens School District boundary, more property owners contribute to the total levy amount. This means that each property owner will likely pay less.
Q: Why are the levies important and what do they pay for?
A: Our local levies pay for critical needs that are not fully-funded by the state. These include:
- Health and safety: The levy funds our additional nurses and safety professionals.
- High-quality instruction: The levy pays for the support and training our teachers and paraprofessionals need to provide students with high-quality instruction. It also funds our early learning and special education programs.
- Academic and mental health support for students: The levy ensures that our students get the academic support to be on track. It also funds our student mental health support professionals and drug and alcohol intervention professionals.
- Technology and instructional materials: The levies support our district 1:1 program, which was essential during Distance Learning. Each student in the district has access to a Chromebook and help with connectivity and needed supplies.
Q: Didn’t the district receive emergency pandemic money? Why do we still need a levy?
A: School districts are receiving federal COVID relief dollars through the Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Act (ESSER) to offset the cost impacts of the pandemic. These are not ongoing funds, and they can only be used to cover expenses associated with the pandemic.
Q: The state has allocated more taxes for schools. Why are local levies still needed?
A: A portion of the property taxes that used to go directly to local schools now go to the state. The state redistributes those dollars back to school districts. Local districts can still ask taxpayers for a levy, but for a much smaller amount. Levy funding is still critical to pay for important needs not fully funded by the state.
The state legislature increased state property taxes in 2018 with the intent of lowering the local portion of school taxes, not eliminating them. This is a step in the right direction, but it is not a perfect solution. Here’s why:
- The state money must be spent in very specific ways. Those restrictions eliminate much of our local control for programs our students need and deserve, and our community wants in schools.
- Some districts can ask voters for more money per student than others. This is not an equitable solution because some districts will generate more funding than others.
- The state is not covering the full cost of staff pay and benefits, special education, transportation, teacher training, counselors and social workers, school nurses, and other critical needs.
Q: I thought money from marijuana dispensaries is supposed to support schools. How is Lake Stevens School District using that money?
A: School Districts in Washington state do not see any direct financial support from cannabis sales. Unlike Colorado, which has a lower tax rate and spends most of its marijuana money on schools, Washington allocates a portion of its marijuana tax dollars to substance-abuse education and treatment programs. The majority of these tax dollars go to the state’s Basic Health Plan Trust Account. (Source: WA State Office of FInancial Management)
Q: What’s the difference between a levy and a bond?
A: Levies are for learning and provide for the day-to-day operation of schools and programs. Think “L” for learning. Bonds are for building and are financed over a long period of time. Bond monies cannot be used to pay for programs or day-to-day expenses. Think “B” for building.
Q: Are tax exemptions available?
A: Yes, if you meet certain criteria. Visit the Snohomish County Assessor’s website or call 425-388-3540 for more information.
Q: What percentage of “yes” votes are needed for approval of the levy?
A: Levies require a 50 percent simple majority to pass.
Q: How can I vote?
A: The Feb. 8, 2022 special election is an all mail election. Registered voters who live in the Lake Stevens School District boundary will receive their ballot around Jan. 21, 2022. Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022. No postage is required to return your ballot. There is a secure ballot drop box at 1800 Main Street near the boat launch. The box is open until 8 p.m. on Election Night.