Ballots for Oroville and Tonasket Schools M&O levies due back by Tuesda

NORTH COUNTY – Voters in the Tonasket and Oroville School Districts have been asked to approve two-year Maintenance and Operations levies to replace levies approved in 2010.

The money for both levies will be collected from property taxpayers in calendar years 2013 and 2014. The Oroville School District is asking for $1,497,371 and would be collected at a rate of $2.46 per $1000 in assessed property valuation. Although the amount to be collected is the same, the rate at which it will be collected is slightly higher than the expiring two-year M&O Levy because property valuations have gone down within the Oroville School District Boundaries. The levy money is equal to about 23 percent of the district’s budget.

“Sometimes people have the misconception that if the rate goes up, the school collects more money, but this is not the case,” writes Superintendent Steve Quick in the Letters to the Editor this week. “Districts go to voters with a set amount and advertise an estimated rate. Ultimately, the people in our school district collectively contribute to the levy and the county develops a rate to collect the amount in a fair manner. In most years, the actual rate and the estimated rate are seldom the same because property values in our county go up and down.”

The Tonasket School District is asking for a $1,150,000 replacement levy at a collection rate of $2.57 per $1000 in assessed property value, slightly up from the $2.22 per $1000 collected last time. If approved the district would have the added benefit of collecting over $600,000 in additional levy equalization funds from the state. Oroville on the other hand, no longer gets levy equalization funds due to a recent building boom that was used by the state to say it was no longer property poor.

Levy moneys go to support both academic and extra-curricular programs, curriculum adoption, personnel, supplies and many other things that the state does not fund or only partially funds.

By law, if approved, the districts can only collect the amount approved by the voters – if the property valuations increase or decrease that amount stays the same. The ballots went out in the mail last month and need to be returned to the Okanogan County Auditor’s office. They must have a postmark no later than election day, Tuesday, Feb. 14, for the ballots to count.