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Wenatchee School District Eyeing Levy Increase To Balance Budget

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.

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