SANDPOINT — Despite rumors to the contrary, the Lake Pend Oreille School District’s proposed supplemental levy won’t become permanent if it passes its March 12 vote.
According to Idaho law, a school district can propose a permanent override levy after seven consecutive years of voter-approved levies. This is only a possibility when the levies account for more than 20 percent of the district’s general fund.
While Lake Pend Oreille School District has had a supplemental levy for several years running, it’s only been in the past four that the total represented a sufficient portion of the general fund.
That has caused confusion among some individuals, who believe that by voting for next month’s levy, they are also voting for a permanent override that would cause it to automatically refresh each year. According to school board chairman Steve Youngdahl, that is far from the truth.
“Not only is that not going to happen this year, it’s a discussion we (board members) haven’t even had yet,” he said.
If voters approve this supplemental levy, it will mean that the district will earn another two years of a levy accounting for more than 20 percent of the general fund, bringing the total to six years. According to district officials, at that point, they could propose another one-year levy, followed by another vote the next year for a permanent override levy. However, Youngdahl said that was a prospect board members have not even begun to consider.
“We’re still three years away from that discussion,” Youngdahl said.
In addition, if board members did choose to pursue that path with local voters, the proposal’s status as a permanent override levy would have to be clearly marked as such on the ballot. School officials would also detail it as such at public presentations and board meetings.
As for the currently proposed levy, it will draw $7,883,742 annually from property taxes over two years for a total of $15,767,484. That money will be used to fund about a third of school staff, all academic and athletic extracurricular activities and all technology upgrades and staff. That amounts to a raise in taxes of about $3.68 from the current $15 a month per $200,000 of assessed value for individuals with a homeowner’s exemption. The vote for the levy occurs on March 12, so voters should show up at their regular polling place to make their opinion heard.