Board, administration discuss referendum planning
By Ben Rodgers
SUAMICO – Administration and the school board discussed the biggest questions voters have for the upcoming referendum at the Monday, Feb. 12 meeting.
“The $1,000 question is how can you have a referendum with no increase in property taxes?” said Gary Sievert, board member. “I heard it three times this weekend. That’s the big one.”
The district has a $5.85 million referendum over the course of five years coming up for election on the April 3 ballot.
The referendum addresses three main needs the district has; reducing class sizes, increasing teacher competitiveness, and facilities maintenance.
If passed the district will be able to go above the state-set revenue cap for five years by $5.85 million without increasing property taxes.
This is possible by debt retirement.
Starting in 2019 the district plans to significantly decrease debt payments.
Any potential referendum funds would essentially replace the debt payments, which would create a balanced tax levy with no property tax increase for residents.
The district has also been holding information sessions with staff members and the community.
On Feb. 2 district administration met with 75 staff members over the course of four meetings.
“Given the format of that day and what those days are designed for, I was encouraged by those numbers,” said Brian Nicol, communications and development coordinator.
As far as the response from community members, Nicol said the main question revolves around property taxes.
“I think it’s normal for people at this stage to want to understand how this impacts them so they can make their own decision on how they would vote, and once they have that they can go to a deeper understanding…,” Nicol said.
The district has more informational meetings planned. The public is welcome to attend to ask any questions.
Those times and dates are; 6 p.m., Thursday, March 1 at the district office, 7 a.m., Friday, March 9 at Townline Pub and Grill, 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 13 at the district office, 6 p.m., Tuesday, March 27 at the district office, and 8 a.m., Thursday, March 29 and Townline Pub and Grill.
Mark Ashley, board president said these meetings are a great chance for the board to be available to the public.
“I like the board to be the face…,” Ashley said. “You are who they put in place to represent them so I think it’s special for you to be able to have the opportunity.”