A: This year the average assessed value for a home was $246,000. Based on information from the Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer's Office, we have calculated that the average assessed value of a home in 2011 will be approximately $218,880. So, based on the decline in home values, here is how we calculated the tax payments for the owner of an average home.
2009 tax collection year - $246,000 * ( $4.80/$1,000 ) = $1180.80
2011 tax collection year - $218,880 * ( $5.81/$1,000 ) = $1271.69
$1271.69 - $1180.80 = $90.89
Q: Why is Prop 2 a levy and not a bond?
A: A capital levy provides a pay-as-you-go method for funding school improvements over a short period of time. By contrast, a bond issue requires borrowing money over a long period of time, which means higher interest payments on the borrowed money. Because the district decided to ask voters to approve a small capital levy Feb. 9 -- less than half of the amount of the bond issue that failed in early 2009 -- a levy made economic sense. In addition, a capital levy requires a 50-percent-plus-one vote to pass, while a bond issue requires 60 percent.
Q: Why is Wilson only being repaired half way and all the other schools are being totally remodeled?
A: In February 2006 and again on March 10,2009, the voters failed to approve proposed bond issues which included funding to "finish" the Wilson HS project; thus, along with other proposed capital improvements that were reviewed, the District Administration and Board of Directors felt the three major projects currently proposed are the most affordable with the best opportunity of being approved by voters.
In addition to Wilson HS, Phase-II, other projects proposed on the failed March 10 ballot included: replacement of Baker MS, Hunt MS and Stewart MS along with $50 million in multiple small capital projects. Wilson HS remains on the planning list for consideration for future capital measures.
Q: It seems that the money needed for Prop 2 is really capital money and should be generated by a bond, not a levy, as it has been in the past. Is this an attempt at end-run around the 60% requirement for bond passage?
A: Capital levies have been an option and historically used by school districts to raise funds for construction. For example, the Tacoma Public Schools used the levies in 1988, 1992 and 1997 for this purpose. The legislature of State of Washington during the 2007 session amended the approval threshold for levies, both operating and capital, to a simple majority. State law allows two voter-approved methods for raising capital investment for schools. A "capital levy" provides a pay-as-you-go method for funding school improvements over a short period of time. By contrast, a "capital bond issue" requires borrowing money over a long period of time, which means higher interest payments on the borrowed money. Because the district decided to ask voters to approve a small capital levy Feb. 9 -- less than half of the amount of the bond issue that failed in early 2009 -- a levy made economic sense. In addition, a capital levy requires a 50-percent-plus-one vote to pass, while a bond issue requires 60 percent.
Q: If the levy passes will Stewart Middle School be remodeled? If so, when?
A: Stewart MS is not included on the proposed 2010 capital levy. There is no firm date for the Stewart MS renovation but that project remains on the list of "high priorities" and would likely be included on the next capital measure to be submitted to voters (date to be determined).
Q: If the levy passes will Baker Middle School be remodeled? If so, when?
A: Baker is first in line of the three schools included in Proposition 2. It won't be remodeled. It will be a new school. Nearly all the architectural and pre-construction work is done, so construction is tentatively scheduled for July 2010. The plan involves the school district proposedly swapping properties with Metro Parks Tacoma. Then the new Baker would be built on Harmon Park next to the current Baker. Students would continue to attend the current Baker during construction. After the new Baker opens, we would tear down the old Baker.
Q: What sense does it make to do major renovations or build new schools, if the budget won't allow them to be properly staffed?
A: The Tacoma Public Schools expects to properly and adequately staff all of its schools. The proposed schools, construction projects and technology upgrades in Proposition 2 are designed to provide students with a safe, up-to-date and effective learning environment in their classrooms.
Q: You estimate a total mileage rate for 2011 of $5.81m if both prop 1 and 2 pass but the two props only add up to $4.56m. It appears the difference is the Bond showing as $1.65m for 2009 tax year does not expire. What is this bond for and what years and corresponding rates remain?
A: The $ 5.81 estimated tax rate for 2011 is made up of the following:
$3.63 for the educational programs and operations levy $.75 for the 6 year capital levy $1.43 for the debt service payments related to previous capital bond issues (i.e. $450,000,000 capital bond issue in 2001)
$5.81 total tax rate:
The existing debt service payments vary in amount each year and end in 2023. The overall tax rate is projected to remain level at $5.81 in the future.
Q: Is it true, that if the levy does not pass, Tacoma Schools will get rid of tuition free all day kindergarten? Will all schools be affected and when will that decision take place?
A: The decisions on what programs and staff would be eliminated if the educational programs and operations levy were not to pass have not been made as of this date. However, it would be very difficult, if not impossible, to maintain tuition free all day kindergarten at all our schools without the levy. The levy funds numerous programs and staff that support classroom activities and the ability to offer programs like all day kindergarten.
Q: I am a teacher in the district with administrative credentials with 18 years experience but only 5 years with Tacoma. If the levy doesn't pass, is it possible that I could lose my job? Is it total years of experience that count, or just years in this district, in terms of seniority?
A: There will be many jobs in jeopardy if the levy does not pass and we cannot tell you specifically at this time which positions those would be without doing further analysis.
Q: If the levy passes will Hunt Middle School be remodeled? If so, when?
A: Hunt is one of the three schools included in Proposition 2. It won't be remodeled. It will be a new school. Nearly all the architectural and pre-construction work is done, so construction is tentatively scheduled to be completed in Jan. 2015. Students would continue to attend the current Hunt during construction. After the new Hunt opens, we would tear down the old Hunt.
Q: In one of the questions you answered, you stated that the average house would only go up ~$90.89 based on the average house assessment between 2009 and 2011. However, my home appraised value went down from $270k to $209k, yet the Taxed Value stayed at $270k. So I will essentially be paying 20% more for the new levy even though I have lost value on my house. Where did you get the numbers to say that Tax Assessed values have gone down so far?
A: The overall assessed valuation in Tacoma School District declined by 4.37% in the last year and the reassessment of existing residential property declined by 7.5%. Those new property valuations will become the basis for property taxes collected in 2010. This information is provided to us by the Pierce County Assessor Treasurer's office. There was also an article in The News Tribune last July, written by Joe Turner, that discussed the drop in Pierce County residential property values and assessments.
Q: If Baker and Hunt middle schools are going to be remodel or rebuilt, then why won't the school district do Stewart Middle School? Baker and Hunt are in better conditions than Stewart.
A: While Stewart Middle School’s dates of construction are older than both Baker and Hunt middle schools, in view of the era of construction (mid-50’s), it is the feeling of district planners that both of those schools are equally in need of replacement vs. Stewart Middle School. Additionally, properties where Baker and Hunt are both located are considered more user-friendly, allowing construction of new schools on site without the need to relocate the respective student population elsewhere, during construction of the new schools. Moreover, the requirement to relocate the Stewart Middle School student population while the existing facility is renovated (vs. replaced), along with historic elements associated with the Stewart facility/project, poses more planning issues vs. Baker and Hunt which are considered to be on more of a “fast-track” schedule. It should be noted that all three of these middle schools were proposed for replacement/renovation in the March 2009 bond issue which voters failed to approve; hence, the District’s Board of Directors decided to offer a smaller capital levy for consideration vs. the previous bond measure (i.e., levy = $140.4M vs. bond = $300M).
Q: How would you describe the Feb. 9, 2010 Tacoma levy election?
A: Funding derived from both propositions are essential to: 1) provide basic services and 2) to provide equitable, quality teaching and learning environments for all students.
Q: What are the requirements to vote in the state of Washington?
A: The Washington State Constitution states:
All persons of the age of eighteen years or over who are citizens of the United States and who have lived in the state, county and precinct thirty days immediately preceding the election at which they offer to vote, except those disqualified by [a felony conviction or mental incompetence], shall be entitled to vote at all elections.
Beginning in July 2009, convicted felons, who have completed their prison time and court-imposed obligations, will have their right to vote restored.
Q: When will we be able to get all the fixings done to the schools?
A: The district formed a Facilities Advisory Committee in 1983 to create a master facilities plan for modernizing and replacing aging school buildings. Tacoma Renewal & Excellence program (T-REX) is an extension of the community’s investment in Tacoma schools and will address the capital needs of the 24 schools still in need of modernization or replacement. This four-phase T-REX program—a 15-year effort—seeks to ensure that all district students have access to facilities that are safe and provide an environment that supports learning.
It is important to remember that the modernization and/or replacement of the district's facilities is an ongoing effort which will require that, to keep pace, one or two schools will need to be addressed annually.
Q: If the levy or bond passes will Wilson High School be first in line to be completed? Heard other schools are in need as well.
A: The Wilson High School, Phase-II project was submitted as part of funding measures in Feb. 2006 and again in Mar. 2009, both times failing to receive voter approval. The three major projects to be funded by the Feb. 9 ballot are: Baker and Hunt middle schools and Washington Elementary School. Wilson High School will likely be on the list, again, for the next funding measure (date to be determined).
Q: If the levy passes will Bryant be remodeled? I believe that it should be remodeled than the other schools.
A: The capital levy being offered on the Feb. 9 ballot for voter consideration includes three major projects: Baker and Hunt middle schools and Washington Elementary School. Bryant is among 21 other school sites yet to be addressed as part of the district’s ongoing capital improvements program.
Q: If the levy does not pass will the Tacoma School District close some schools?
A: To date, school closures has not been discussed as an outcome of a levy failure but, in the event of a levy failure all options would be explored with the ultimate decision coming from the Board of Directors.