WENATCHEE — The Wenatchee School Board is looking to the community for input on whether it should avoid further staff cuts next year and stabilize its budget with a 30-cent boost to the school levy in 2020 and 2021.
The informational meeting is set for 6-7 p.m. Wednesday at Wenatchee High School, 1101 Millerdale Ave.
District administrators are recommending the levy rate increase, which would raise $806,000 in revenue for the 2019-20 school year and $1.58 million for the 2020-21 school year. It would add about $90 in taxes to the owner of a $300,000 house.
Even with the proposed revenue from the levy, the district projects a budget deficit of $1.6 million as it continues to adapt to changes in the state school funding model and subsequent salary and benefit cost increases, in addition to declining enrollment projections.
The 30-cent increase would bring the levy rate to $1.80 for every $1,000 of assessed value. Wenatchee’s levy, if it had not been capped, would have been at about $2.91 next year, based on the amount approved by voters in April 2017.
The state capped local school levies at $1.50 in 2018 as part of a levy swap that also increased the state tax. The Legislature lifted the levy lid to $2.50 during the last legislative session.
Restoring a higher levy rate for districts in the middle of multi-year levies technically requires only a board resolution as part of the budget process. The final decision rests with the school board since voters already approved the levy amounts even though they were capped after-the-fact.
Wenatchee and Eastmont school districts both have voter-approved multi-year levies for collection rates above the $1.50 cap.
Eastmont’s draft budget for next year includes the full $10 million a year in revenues that voters approved in November 2016. The rate is estimated at $2.22 for every $1,000 of assessed property value in 2020 and $2.25 in 2021.
The Wenatchee School Board has the authority to raise its levy to the $2.50 cap. Its current proposal is for $1.80.
Wednesday’s meeting is open to the public. Interpretation services will be made available for those who need it.
For information call 663-8161.