Issaquah School District property tax rates should fall
March 6, 2012
By Tom Corrigan
“How much will it raise taxes?”
That’s the first question that comes to mind when a money issue of any kind is put before voters. So, how will the $219 million bond package being floated by the Issaquah School District affect local property taxes?
Bond supporters are quick to point out that local property tax bills will fall even if the bond issue passes. That’s because a bond package voters approved in 2006 is about to be retired.
According to the district, the retirement of the earlier bond will drop the local tax rate from $4.85 per $1,000 of assessed property value to $4.05. Passage of the new bond would put the rate at $4.42.
Compared to present rates, for a person with a home valued at $500,000, even with the new bond, property taxes will drop by $215 annually, said Jake Kuper, district chief of finance and operations. He was quick to add taxes would drop by an additional $215 if the new bond does not pass.
Deconstructing the bond
A four-part series about the Issaquah School District’s proposed $219 million bond.
Part 1 of 4: How the bond could impact schools
The 2012 bond would be on the books for eight years.
By law, school administrators are not allowed to directly promote money issues before voters. They cannot directly ask you to vote one way or another. But local officials did say there are several reasons they decided to float a bond issue now.
“Everybody is very respectful of this economy,” Sara Niegowski, district director of communications, said.
At the same time, the district has 60-year-old buildings with which it needs to deal, Associate Superintendent Ron Thiele said.
The current economic slump actually could work in the district’s favor, according to Thiele and others. Issaquah schools can take advantage of low interest on the bonds sold to fund capital improvements. At the same time, contractors are hungry for work, meaning bids should be lower than they might be otherwise. On projects under way with funding from the 2006 bond, local schools have been able to attract big-name, quality contractors who might have ignored Issaquah under other circumstances, Steve Crawford, district director of capital projects, said.
Lesley Austin is one of two co-chairwomen of Voters for Issaquah Schools, the grassroots committee promoting passage of the levy. In talking about the cost of the levy to taxpayers, she made many of the same points as district administrators. Construction costs are likely never to be lower, Austin said. Aging schools, such as Clark and Sunny Hills elementary, are going to need some attention, she added. Voters can pass the bond now or pay more in the future, she argued.
Tom Corrigan: 392-6434, ext. 241, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.