OKANOGAN — The Okanogan School District and Aero Methow Rescue will both ask voters to renew maintenance and operations levies in a special election Feb. 12. Ballots went to registered voters in those districts last week, and must be postmarked by Feb. 12.
Voters in Okanogan will also decide whether to fund a $1.15 million general bond issue that would extend the life of school district buildings and grounds through renovations and upgrades. The bond issue needs 60 percent of voters to approve in order to pass, while the maintenance levy needs 50 percent approval.
“We don’t need to build new, we just have to take care of what we have,” Okanogan School Superintendent Richard Johnson said.
He said the bond, to be paid back over the next 15 years, would help the district preserve its current buildings for many years. It would repair everything from roofing and flooring to bathrooms. The bond would also help the district complete its security system, and look at its communication needs.
The replacement levy would bring in a total of $919,000 per year in 2014 and 2015, and cost an estimated $3.17 per $1,000 assessed value — a drop from the current $3.33 per $1,000 assessed value collected. If it passes, the district can collect $970,502 in levy equalization funds from the state.
Together, those funds help the district fill the gap between what the state provides and what the district feels is required for educational needs. It pays for instruction, curriculum, support staff and extra curricular activities.
Johnson said if voters pass both measures, they will see a total increase in levy taxes of 6 cents per $1,000 assessed value, or 50 cents a month for someone with a home valued at $100,000.
That’s because the levy rate is predicted to drop by 16 cents per $1,000 assessed value, while the bond would add 22 cents per $1,000 assessed value.
Voters in the Methow Valley will be asked to renew an existing levy for emergency services at 50 cents per $1,000 assessed value. Those voters do not include residents of Twisp, who vote on the levy renewal every six years instead of every 10 years, said Cindy Button, Aero Methow’s director of services.
The levy allows the ambulance service to be ready to respond to any emergency with trained staff.
She said donations and the levy allow the ambulance service to operate throughout the valley regardless of their call volume, or people’s ability to pay for those services.
K.C. Mehaffey: 997-2512