Quincy readies February for school levy vote

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QUINCY — It’s levy time in the Quincy School District.

Which means district officials are gearing up to inform voters of the choice they face on Feb. 12.

“Bonds are for building, levies are for learning,” Quincy superintendent John Boyd told members of the Quincy City Council on Tuesday.

The district’s current four-year levy, which helps pay for everything from music programs to athletics to enrichment, expires at the end of 2019. Voters are being asked to approve a new levy that will help fund school operations beginning in 2020 through the end of 2022.

While school budgets are set according to the Sept. 1 through Aug. 31 school year, levies are imposed and collected according to the calendar year, beginning on Jan. 1.

“Normally, we go for four-year levies,” Boyd said. “But with the uncertainty in school funding, we’re asking for a three-year levy instead.”

Boyd said the local levy funds roughly 16 percent of the district’s $44 million budget.

The current levy rate of $2.09 per $1,000 in assessed value raised $8.4 million in 2018. However, because the levy rate is now capped at $1.50, the district expects to raise only $6.3 million in local property taxes in 2019. The state legislature capped the local levy statewide in exchange for increasing the statewide property tax levy and picking up more of the tab of funding “basic education.”

The Moses Lake School District’s local levy for 2019 will raise roughly the same amount of money despite having a budget nearly three times the size of Quincy’s.

Boyd credited the arrival of the data centers in Quincy.

“Thirteen of the 15 largest companies in Quincy are data centers,” he said. “Half of the assessed value in the district is data centers.”

The total assessed value of property in the school district has risen from $600 million in 2002 to $4.2 billion this year, Boyd said. In 2017, the Grant County assessor’s office valued the property in the Quincy School District at $3.9 billion, slightly more than the total assessed value of property in the Moses Lake School District.

In fact, even with the cap, Boyd said the district expects to raise $8.4 million from the local levy in 2022. The levy only needs 50 percent approval to pass.

Charles Featherstone can be reached via email at cfeatherstone@columbiabasinherald.com.

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