A capital projects levy will appear on the general election ballot in November. The motion was passed unanimously by the Peninsula School District Board of Directors at a special board meeting that took place July 31.
The levy would collect $50 million. That’s $12.5 million for each of the next four years from property taxes collected on the Key and Gig Harbor peninsulas.
It would cost each property owner an additional $1.40 per $1,000 assessed evaluation each of the four years that the levy runs. For a $250,000 home, that’s $350 per year in additional property taxes.
The money would be used to construct a new elementary school in the Gig Harbor North area (near Borgen Boulevard), where a large number of new homes are currently under construction, and also either renovate or replace Artondale Elementary School, which, according to the district, has some serious safety concerns.
“There are concerns that, if we have a heavy snow load, the roof at Artondale may be in danger of collapse,” said Matt Wilkinson, board member. “If that should happen, it would be a whole lot more costly for us, especially if some children were hurt.”
“Our 30-year facilities plan had already identified the population growth, the need for an additional elementary school, et cetera,” said Chuck Cuzzetto, PSD superintendent.
“These needs were a frequent topic of discussion at school board meetings. Land purchase for the school closed on July 25. We immediately set a special board meeting for public hearing of the levy issue to get it on the November ballot so that construction could start in 2014,” he said.
The meeting conference room was packed to capacity. Public testimony was split between Artondale parents pleading for improvements for their children’s school and taxpayers opposed to more taxes.
School district employees and parents are organizing to support the levy vote in November. The committee chair is board member Harlan Gallinger, whose bio can be viewed at psd401.net.
Ken Manning chairs the committee in opposition to the levy. Manning is a commercial fisherman who has lived in Gig Harbor for 58 years and feels that “the levy was rushed, is much too high and that other options need to be explored.”
Schools are exempt from the Constitutional limit on how much can be collected from property taxes each year.
Key Peninsula Metropolitan Parks District also has an operations and maintenance levy on the November ballot. The district is not exempt from the Constitutional limit and is expected to lose all of its authorized tax revenue next year due to a “pro-ration” situation, where it is low in the pecking order, with all property tax revenue sent to higher priority municipal governments.
During 2013, the state government approved a law allows small park districts, like Key Pen Parks, to seek voter approval for a temporary levy for funding outside of the Constitutional limit.
There will be two property tax levies on the November ballot, both outside of the Constitutional cap on tax collection. Voters will decide either to limit taxes; or to provide safe schools and parks that remain open.
The pro levy committee can be contacted at email@example.com.
The committee opposing the levy can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.