UPDATE: School levies still winning approval

YourVoteCountsOmak Middle School construction bond failing

OKANOGAN COUNTY – Local school levies from Oroville to Pateros were carrying the day as of the most recent ballot count for the Tuesday, Feb. 13 general election. The second ballot count, which took place Friday, Feb. 16, showed little change in the numbers over Tuesday night’s count.

In Okanogan County, the Oroville School District’s request for a two-year Maintenance and Operations Levy of $1,497,371 to be collected in 2019 and 2020 had widespread approval. The measure had 60.07 percent approval, well over the simple majority of 50 percent needed to pass. Oroville’s levy was different than the other school districts in it asked for an amount greater than the $1.50 per $1000 in assessed property valuation cap that was set by House Bill 2422. The school board was concerned that although the state has promised to fully fund basic education, including a new state property tax to make up for the difference in what the district’s say they need and what $1.50/$1000 would raise, there has been talk of making changes. The Oroville School Board set the amount at a $2.72/$1000 collection rate, knowing full well if current legislation stands they can only collect $1.50/$1000.

The rest of the districts in the county based their levies on the $1.50 per $1000 of assessed valuation cap as laid out in HB2422. Tonasket voters were approving their levy with 59.06 percent of the vote, a gain of over nine percent over the first count. The Tonasket School District was asking voters to approve a Replacement Educational Programs and Operation Levy with a price tag of $830,000 in 2019 and $900,000 in 2020.

Omak School District’s Replacement Educational Programs and Operation Levy amount is $1,990,760 over two years. The levy was passing with 53.06 percent of the vote, picking up two percent over the first count. Okanogan School District is asking for a Replacement Technology Levy of $1,0855,56 to be collected over four years. That measure currently has 61.27 percent approval, a gain of a couple percentage points. Pateros School District’s levy is passing with 53.34 percent in favor. Pateros School District was asking $2,656,00 over four years.

Omak School District’s Proposition No. 2, bonds to construct a new middle school, was well short of the 60 percent needed to pass the measure. As of the latest count it only had 46.40 percent of district voters casting ballots in favor of the measure, up slightly over the Tuesday count, but still not enough to pass.

Oroville’s levy is different than what the other school districts were asking in that it is a direct replacement of the levy that ends in 2018 and at a collection rate of $2.72 per $1000 of assessed property valuation. The amount to be collected will be the exact same as the expiring two-year levy, but the amount per $1000 in value has increased slightly because of district’s overall value dropped, primarily because of the Buckhorn Mountain gold mine wrapping up operations and entering the reclamation phase.

The number of registered voters in the election is 15,527. Countywide the number of ballots in by Tuesday, Feb. 13 were 4,490 with 11,037 out. As of Friday’s count there were 6,327 counted.

The next count will be on Friday, Feb, 23 and the election will be certified the same day.


About Gary DeVon

Gary DeVon is the managing editor of the Okanogan Valley Gazette-Tribune and celebrated his 25th year at the newspaper in August 2012. He graduated from Gonzaga University with a degree in Communications - Print Journalism, with an emphasis in photojournalism. He is a proud alumnus of Oroville High School. His family first settled in Okanogan County in the late 1800s. His parents are Judy DeVon and the late Larry DeVon and he has two younger brothers - Dante and Michael. Many family members still call Oroville home. He has a grown daughter, Segornae Douglas and a young granddaughter, Erin.