Treasure Valley voters go to the polls Tuesday to decide on a total of $395 million in bonds and levies from Boise, West Ada, Kuna and Vallivue school districts. If voters give their OK, the money would pay for a variety of needs, from constructing new schools to covering maintenance costs and buying books.
How does a bond differ from a levy? A bond is like your house mortgage. The school district borrows money over time, typically 20 to 25 years, for school construction. Then it uses property taxes to repay the loan with interest. Districts don’t borrow money for a levy, so there is no interest. They collect the money from taxpayers and spend it each year. Because bonds are long-term debt, Idaho law requires a two-thirds vote to pass.
Will my taxes go up? No one can say for sure. These districts are promising no increase in the tax rates if bonds or levies are approved (West Ada does plan to reduce its levy and overall tax rate). A steady tax rate doesn’t necessarily mean your taxes will remain the same. Taxes are based on the tax rate multiplied by the taxable value of your home, which can change year to year.
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Boise School District
Bond: $172.5 million
What it would do: Part of a $217 million, 10-year school improvement plan that includes replacing six aging elementaries and building a new elementary school in fast-growing Harris Ranch in Southeast Boise. The plan includes major construction projects at 22 schools and renovations, upgrades and maintenance at 26 other schools.
Cost: $240 million, including interest.
Effect on taxes: No change to the district tax rate for debt of $70 per $100,000 of taxable value of your house. The district recently paid off bonds from 1996 that built several schools.
Needed to pass: Two-thirds vote.
West Ada School District
Levy: $160 million over 10 years
What it would do: West Ada wants a levy for school additions, maintenance and improvements of up to $16 million a year for 10 years. It would replace a $20 million-a-year levy that is expiring. Among projects under consideration: gyms at Spalding STEM Academy and Pioneer School for the Arts, artificial turf replacement at Rocky Mountain High School, and remodeling at Meridian Middle School.
Cost: Up to $16 million a year. Districts don’t borrow money with a levy, so there is no interest.
Effect on taxes: Tax rate will drop from $118.84 per $100,000 of taxable property value to $94.30, because the overall levy size is dropping.
Needed to pass: 60 percent voter approval
Kuna School District
Bond: $40 million; Levy: $5 million over two years
What it would do: The bond would construct the first phase of a new high school, convert Teed Elementary School to a middle school, update Kuna Middle School, add classrooms to two elementary schools and pay for other improvements. The expansion is being driven by rapid growth in Kuna, where the population has increased 76 percent over a decade. The levy would purchase books, new curriculum and updated technology
Cost: Bond totals $49.4 million, including interest; $2.5 million a year on the levy for two years.
Effect on taxes: District’s current $500 per $100,000 of taxable value will not change.
Needed to pass: Two-thirds vote on the bond; simple majority on the levy.
Vallivue School District
Levy: $20 million over 10 years
Use: A facilities and maintenance levy to care for buildings for the next decade. Up from $10 million from the previous decade.
Cost: Up to $2 million a year. Districts don’t borrow money with a levy, so there is no interest.
Effect on taxes: The levy is double the previous maintenance levy amount, but the district’s overall tax rate of $582 per $100,000 of taxable value, which includes more than the maintenance levy, will not change because of increases in the district’s overall property value.
Needed to pass: Two-thirds vote