Levies

School crossing sign that reads, "Levy Ahead. February 14, 2023."Finley Educational Programs and Operations Levy
February 14, 2023

Finley School District is proposing an Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) Levy on the February 14, 2023 Special Election.

Finley’s EP&O Levy will impact students and staff across all Finley schools and grade levels.  Because the full cost of operating schools is higher than the funding provided by the state, many school districts rely on local levies to bridge this gap in funding.

How are your levy dollars used in Finley?

  • Athletics
    • Transportation for sporting events
    • Coaches
    • Equipment
  • Extracurriculars, Activities & Clubs
    • Advisors
    • Transportation
  • Instructional Supplies & Curriculum
  • Technology Equipment & Services
  • Maintenance & Operations
    • Custodians
    • Buildings and grounds
    • Utilities
  • Staffing & Student Support
    • School Nurses
    • Counselors
    • Secretaries
    • Staff professional development/training

Levy dollars are used to continue programs in Finley schools that have been put on hold as a result of last year’s budget reductions. If Finley voters approve the EP&O Levy during the February 14th election, our district would have the opportunity to:

  • Reduce class sizes
  • Increase opportunities for music and the arts
  • Resume curriculum adoptions that were put on hold
  • Improve school building and grounds upkeep
  • Include “C” teams for athletics at the high school
  • Bring back two teams for all middle school sports

How much will the EP&O Levy cost?

The total collection amount being proposed for Finley’s EP&O Levy is $2.9 million, which will be collected over a two-year period: $1,430,000 in 2024 and $1,475,000 in 2025. The estimated tax rate is $2.25 per $1,000 assessed property value, beginning in 2024.

Year

Total Collection Amount 

Estimated Tax Rate
(per $1,000 assessed property value)

 2024  $1,430,000  $2.25
 2025  $1,475,000 $2.27

Learn more about Finley’s EP&O Levy!

Continue to watch our website and follow us on social media as we add information and resources over the coming months. We also encourage you to contact our district office with any questions – in person at 224606 E Game Farm Road, or call us at 509-586-3217.

Important Dates to Remember:

  • January 23 – Ballots are mailed by the county to local voters
  • February 6 – Last day to register to vote or update your voter registration online (wei.sos.wa.gov)
  • February 14 – Election day! Ballots must be returned by 8PM on Tuesday, February 14

Finley Levy Tax Rate History

line chart showing the tax rate history in Finley since 2017

The table above shows the tax rate history for Educational Programs & Operations levies in Finley School District since 2016.  A levy rate is the amount of property tax per $1,000 of assessed property value to fund a voter approved levy amount. The upcoming Finley EP&O Levy voters will see on their February 14, 2023 ballot has an estimated levy tax rate of $2.25 in 2024 and $2.27 in 2025. (Learn more about the "levy lid" rate drop in 2019 below.)

Where does school funding come from?

The primary sources of school funding for Washington’s public schools come from grants, state funding, and local levies and bonds.

Finley School District 2021-2022 Revenue Sources

Revenue Source

Amount

Local Levy Dollars & State Match (LEA)

$ 1,125,541.26

State Apportionment (based on student enrollment)

$ 7,920,114.50

State Grants $ 1,361,754.01
Federal Grants $ 2,514,272.58
Food Service Funding 760,609.22
Transportation Funding  $ 621,474.29

TOTAL

$14,412,430.48


 

When and how do I vote?

  • Ballots will be mailed to voters near the end of January 2023
  • Ballots must be returned by 8PM on Tuesday, February 14th
  • Not sure if you’re registered to vote? You can find voting information or register to vote online at wei.sos.wa.gov.
  • Washington State law provides tax exemption and deferral programs for senior citizens and individuals who are disabled. For more information on qualifications, contact the Benton County Assessor’s Office at 509-735-2394.

Still Have Questions?

If you have any questions or concerns regarding Finley’s EP&O Levy or school funding, please feel free to contact our district office at (509) 586-3217.

SCHOOL FUNDING FAQs

Funding for education in the state of Washington is complicated and can lead to questions about how schools receive the money needed to serve our community’s children. The state of Washington is required to supply school districts with state funding for “basic education.” Outside of state funding and grants, schools may receive money for facilities, programs, and services from voter-approved bonds and levies. Because the funding provided by the state does not cover the actual costs to operate a school district, many school districts use levies to bridge the gap.

Q: Do all public schools receive state funding?

A: Yes, but the amount that districts receive varies based on a number of factors.  For example: Enrollment, regional cost of living differences, poverty rates, and the number of special needs or non-English speaking students are all factors in the amount of state funding a district receives. Most districts also receive additional federal funding, which is mostly determined by levels of poverty and special needs populations within a district.

Q: Didn’t Washington schools already receive money from the state because of the McCleary decision?

A: Yes, but the funding does not cover the actual costs of operating a school district. The Washington State Supreme Court decision on the McCleary lawsuit resulted in public school districts seeing a net funding increase in 2018. Even though the state increased the amount of funding it was providing to school districts, it also capped the amount of funding school districts can raise from local levies. The Legislature also applied restrictions to how funding can be used. For local school districts, this means that levies have been significantly impacted, causing widespread confusion in communities across the state.

Q: How are levies approved?

A: Levies require local voter approval with a simple majority of pass 50% + 1 vote in order to pass.

Q: What is a levy rate?

A: A levy rate is the amount of property tax per $1,000 of assessed property value to fund a voter approved levy amount. A levy rate of $1.00 means that for every $1,000 of property value, the owner of the property will have to pay $1.00 in taxes.

In Finley School District, the proposed Levy rate on the February 14, 2023 ballot is is $2.25 in 2024 and $2.27 in 2025.

Q: How often can school districts run levies?

A: Voters can approve an EP&O levy for up to four years. Finley School District typically runs two-year levies. After the allotted number of years, the levy expires and must be renewed (similar to a subscription). Districts typically then go back to their voters and ask for a renewal, or replacement levy.

Q: Is there a limit on the dollar amount a district may propose for a levy?

A: Yes. This maximum dollar amount is known as the “levy lid.” As part of the changes the Legislature made to the way the state funds education in Washington, also known as the “McCleary decision,” levy rates are capped at $2.50 per $1,000 of assessed property value. A levy may not collect more than $2,500 per student maximum, a dollar threshold which is adjusted annually based on inflation. This “levy lid” rule is the reason why Finley’s levy tax rate dropped dramatically beginning in 2019. (See Finley’s Tax Rate History chart above.)

Q: Is there a tax break for senior citizens?

A: Yes! Washington State law provides two tax benefit programs for senior citizens and individuals who are disabled: property tax exemptions and property tax deferrals. For more information on qualifications, please contact the Benton County Assessor's office at 509-786-5620.

Q: What are “state match dollars”?

A: Many school districts can qualify for additional financial assistance from the state of Washington to help build or modernize facilities. The state determines the amount of square footage that each student needs (the amounts are different for elementary, middle, and high schools) and assigns a dollar amount per square foot based on current average construction cost estimates. Both new construction and remodeling projects can be eligible for state assistance. While these matching funds are helpful for bond projects, only a limited percentage of actual costs are typically covered using this formula, leaving the rest of the cost to the school district and the local community (via a bond or capital levy).