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Going inside the numbers

Central Kitsap voters will be receiving their Feb. 7 election ballots within a week and will soon cast their vote on the School Support Levy for Maintenance and Operations, a renewal of the levy they OK’d in 2002. On their ballots residents will see an approximate rate that is 20 cents lower than what they will pay in 2006, when the current levy expires. A 60 percent or more vote would, however, lock in not the rate but the levy amount, which is a fixed number.

The proposal, shaped by Central Kitsap School District administrators and put forth by the CKSD Board of Directors, asks for a little more than $54 million to be collected over four years from 2007 to 2010. The levy rate, also listed on the ballots, is subject to fluctuation and is based on the district’s estimation of assessed property values in the CK area for the four-year levy duration.

“We’re asking for X amount of money which we believe, to the best of our ability, it will be $2.20 (per $1,000 of assessed property value),” said Christy Cathcart, CKSD board president.

Distinguishing between the levy rate, which is an approximation, and the fixed levy amount is one of the easier math problems in the numbers jungle that is a school levy.

Figuring the figures

The numbers listed under the School Support Levy proposition are a product of months of planning and different budget scenario predictions that district officials presented to the school board members.

According to numbers CKSD obtained from the county assessor, in 2005 the taxable property assessed valuation for the CK area was $4.4 billion and in 2006, the tax base is $5.5 billion. Based on these figures, the county estimated a 10 percent increase, for a $6 billion tax base in 2007, CKSD estimated a 5 percent increase for each of the following three years, and started narrowing down levy amounts and rates based on those numbers and the district’s projected budget needs.

“When we arrived at a number our philosophy was to maintain current level of services,” said Paul McNeill, CKSD’s executive director of business and operations.

For weeks the district and board of directors had been discussing a $2.40 levy rate, but in a late October study session, the rate and levy amount were pulled down, just before the board voted on the levy resolution on Nov. 9.

The reason for the last minute change, McNeill said, is because under the $2.40 rate scenario, CKSD was asking for a $13.8 million levy sum to be collected in 2007. That would amount to a more than 25 percent increase over what will be collected this year, when the current levy expires.

“We felt the community would be comfortable with a $2.20 rate,” Cathcart said. “We translate that into meaning they would vote for that and support it.”

What that rate also translates into is a $403 cost next year to the CK homeowner with an assessed property value of $183,000, according to CKSD calculations. That property value number, also based on county information, is a median — the number picked from the middle if all area assessed property values were listed, not the average.

“We have a couple properties out there that are $5- to $6 million,” McNeill said about the CK area’s assessed property values. “Were you to throw those into an average it would skew it.”

He also estimated that since the $183,000 figure is an assessment, not a market value, it would translate into $235,000 if taken into account as an average sale price.

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