WBCSD seeks $6M, 2-year levy

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Line items for West Bonner County School District’s proposed tow-year supplemental levy, $3 million per year:

• General fund shortfall: $2,128,737 per year

• Class fees: $8,500 per year

• School resource officer: $55,000 per year

• Technology supplies: $24,710 per year

• Library and school funds: $68,000 per year

• Curriculum: $87,500 per year

• Tuition credit payments: $9,000 per year

• Longevity stipend: $108,000 per year

• Student activities: $378,653 per year

• Facilities: $128,500 per year

• Bus purchase: $3,000 per year

Line items are subject to change in subsequent years if a permanent supplemental override is approved. Also if approved, the amount levied can not exceed $3 million per year without going back out to voters.

PRIEST RIVER — The West Bonner County School District will once again ask voters to approve a two-year supplemental levy in March. While the amount is the same as the current two-year levy approved in 2017, the ballot will look a little different than it has in the past.

District officials approved ballot language during the Jan. 16 board meeting requesting voters approve $6 million over the next two years — $3 million per year. There will be a second question, however, asking voters to approve a permanent supplemental override. The permanent override would allow the district to levy up to $3 million each year without having to ask voters to approve it every two years.

School districts in Idaho are eligible for the override after seven consecutive years of voter-approved levies that account for more than 20 percent of the district’s general fund. WBCSD Superintendent Paul Anselmo said the levy covers approximately 25 percent of the district’s operating budget.

“The reality is, just by the nature of how schools are funded in Idaho, it’s become an integral part of schools’ operating budgets,” Anselmo said.

The two-year, $6 million levy question will be separate from the permanent override question on the ballot, and while they unanimously approved taking the proposal to voters, board members were concerned it could be misunderstood.

“I don’t want to lose our levy because of maybe some confusion,” said board chair Sandy Brower.

Jennifer Anselmo, WBCSD business manager and board clerk, said voters can approve the two-year levy and not approve the permanent override. And if the levy doesn’t pass, the second question would be void.

“We would not get an indefinite term if the majority did not pass the levy to begin with,” Jennifer Anselmo said.

If the permanent override is approved, she said, the district can not levy more than $3 million in future years, though they can levy less if state funding increases. If the district ever chooses to levy more than $3 million, they will have to take it back to the voters.

If the two-year levy passes, regardless of the permanent override, Paul Anselmo said the levy rates for taxpayers will go down due to the sale of lots at Priest Lake. The rates have been reduced to $1.47 per $1,000 of assessed property value, down from $1.76.

“So that’s a savings to our taxpayers for the same amount of money,” he said.

Jennifer Anselmo said the monthly cost to taxpayers per $100,000 with a homeowners exemption would be $6.13.

The ballot will go to voters March 12.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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