Ada County voters don’t appear to be enthusiastic about casting ballots on school bonds and levies in the county’s three school districts.
An estimated 15 percent of registered voters will turnout to support or oppose bonds and levies in Boise, Kuna and West Ada school districts, Phil McGrane, Ada County chief deputy clerk, told the Idaho Statesman late Tuesday afternoon.
As of 3 p.m., many precincts were running about 100 voters. One precinct in the Vista neighborhood, had two.
“Voter turnout in the three bond and levy elections in Ada County is running slightly below expectations for financial issues going before voters,” McGrane said.
McGrane said he’s seen results in the high 20 percent range in previous votes where tax money was at stake.
Lack of a highly visible campaign in some districts may be a contributing factor, he added. Measures in Kuna, West Ada and Boise school districts had no large, definable opposition. And in Boise, the Friends of Boise Schools mounted a $100,000 campaign to convince voters to back a plan for replacing older schools, building a new one and renovating and improving others.
Before you go to the polls, here is a breakdown of what schools are seeking:
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.