Taking it to the voters: School boards look to seek more taxpayer help tonight

Statesman staffJanuary 14, 2014 

Who wants money? At least three Treasure Valley school boards will meet Tuesday night to decide how much they will ask their property taxpayers to pay for levies to help run school operations. Meridian, Nampa and Kuna have meetings planned.

Why? School district turned to voters to pass supplemental levies after the state cut spending on education during the economic downturn.

Otter's plan: Idaho lawmakers are poised to boost spending on schools for 2014-2015, but no one is sure by how much. Gov. Butch Otter proposed an increase, but not enough in most cases to cover the amount schools get in the levies.

Why now? Districts can hold elections four times a year on state-prescribed election dates. The first date is March 11. Districts must get paperwork to their county election offices by Friday if they want to hold the elections in March.

The role of voters: Levies can last for one or two years and require a simple majority for passage.

Here is a rundown for each district:

• Meridian's $14 million levy expires this year. It pays for the equivalent of 18 days of school. It costs $115.64 per year for a homeowner whose house has a taxable value of $100,000.

• Kuna's $3.19 million levy has helped pay for 71 employees and six school days. It costs $326.15 per year for a home with a taxable value of $100,000. Trustees will consider whether to reduce the levy by the estimated $600,000 the district anticipates receiving in new money from the state.

• Nampa's $1.6 million levy expires this year. The district is considering asking for a larger amount. Superintendent Pete Koehler has suggested $2.8 million. Money would go to restore seven furlough days - five of them contact time between teachers and students - and 10 of the 46 teaching positions lost to attrition for 2013-2014 as the district worked through financial problems. The levy costs $50 per year for a home with a taxable value of $100,000. Increasing the levy to $2.8 million could increase the tax bill on the same house to $85.

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