The North Beach School Board last week approved a request for a new maintenance and operations levy increase for 2015 and 2016 to be put before district voters in a February election.
The total amount to be raised is $1.79 million.
“We will be asking for the same amount of money that we collected in 2014,” Co-Supt. Stan Pinnick told the board on Dec. 17.
The rate would be approximately $1.21 for every $1,000 of assessed property value, based on current assessed valuations.
Board Chairman Stephen Buck asked: “Does this mean we are not asking for three levies this year and we are only asking for one?”
Pinnick said the district was asking for just the one levy. In February 2010, district voters approved three levies: to replace an existing levy for maintenance and operational expenses ($1.46 million), for technology improvements ($107,549) and a capitol levy ($215,099) to modernize and upgrade the high school facilities. The later two levies were through 2014, but the M&O levy can only be for two years and was approved again by voters in 2012 with 1,132 yes votes (58.53 percent).
Pinnick said the funds for 2015-16 are needed for a larger-scale maintenance program and to keep up with the improvements that have been made in past years. “We are looking at putting in one new maintenance person. Five years ago, when we had a maintenance person leave, that’s when a lot of the funding went down and that person wasn’t replaced.”
The last capital facilities levy helped improve the district’s buildings, Pinnick said, “now we just need to put together a maintenance program to keep it going.”
“Out on the beach, you need a strong maintenance program with consistent attention because the weather and salt air really has an impact on our facilities,” Pinnick added. “The community has really supported us with outstanding facilities, and now it’s our responsibility to have an accountable maintenance program to keep them in top quality.”
A maintenance and operations levy cannot be used for salary increases, he noted, but it can be used to replace the maintenance person that was lost. The rate is still an approximate one, Pinnick said, because of issues with a new evaluation system in the county Assessor’s Office.
“We have been waiting on the Assessor like many other municipalities, and we have not received the assessed valuation for 2014,” Pinnick told the board.
Ultimately, it will be up to the board to “set the budget parameters” on how the money is spent, he added. The board voted 3-0 to put the measure on the ballot.
Pinnick and the district have compiled a list of how the district’s levy request compares with other neighboring districts.
Hoquiam’s levy rate in 2015 would be $4.22 per $1,000 of assessed property value, while Aberdeen’s rate would be $4.90 per $1,000; Wishkah would be $4.60, McCleary $3.78, and Taholah $7.56, according to figures supplied by Pinnick.
The levies passed by North Beach voters, he said, helped provide for significant improvements in the district’s new technology programs and upgrade maintenance plans as well as facilities.
“The heavy lifting has been taken care of now, it’s just a matter of keeping it going,” Pinnick said.
The levy election will be a single-issue mail-only ballot on Feb. 11, with ballots to go out Jan. 24.