In order to avoid the pitfalls encountered last year, the Wenatchee School District wants to increase its levy rate. And they’re seeking public opinion, including at a meeting tonight, as Marcus Bellissimo reports.
The Wenatchee School Board will hold a community meeting tonight on the district’s financial stability.
Staff and the new Superintendent Paul Gordon have proposed a 30-cent levy increase on the property tax revenue the district collects. The levy rate increase, to take effect in 2020, was recommended by District Administration as a necessary measure to avoid further staff cuts and stabilize the district’s budget for the next two years.
The proposed increase would provide about $806,000 in revenue for the 2019-20 school year and $1.58 million for the 2020-21 school year.
Even with the increase in levy dollars, the District projects a budget deficit of $1.6 million as they adapt to changes in the state school funding model and subsequent salary and benefit cost increases, in addition to declining enrollment projections.
The 30-cent levy increase would bring the levy rate to $1.80 for every $1,000 of assessed value. The state capped local school levies at $1.50 in 2018 as part of a levy swap that also increased the state tax.
The legislature lifted the levy lid to $2.50 during the last legislative session, giving school districts authority to restore previously voter approved levies rates.
Public comment will be take at tonight’s meeting. It’s from 6-7 p.m. at Wenatchee High School.