MONROE — It appears patience may have paid off for the Monroe School District.
In Tuesday’s ballot count, voters in the district were supporting a property tax that would pay for vital school programs. That means district leaders won’t need to consider cutting extracurriculars, classroom staff and more programs not covered by state dollars.
Voters around Snohomish County were asked to consider other tax measures on Election Day, including levies to fund transportation projects in Lakewood and Stanwood, and a proposal to merge Fire District 23 and Fire District 17 in the Granite Falls area.
Here is how measures fared in Tuesday’s ballot count.
Monroe School District
A four-year programs and operations levy was passing by about 250 votes Tuesday night. Of the 10,282 ballots counted, 51.25% approved the tax. The measure needs a simple majority approval to pass.
This is the district’s second attempt to pass the tax that funds about 14% of its annual budget. It covers all athletic and extracurricular programs, as well as several classroom staff positions, parts of the special education program and other operation costs not covered by state funding.
In February, the same measure failed as residents expressed frustration about district leadership and policies. The school board waited for November to try again, in hopes of rebuilding trust.
The levy will raise almost $69 million, including about $15 million in 2023. The district estimates it will cost property owners $1.71 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2023.
Stanwood transportation levy
Stanwood voters were asked to consider an extension of a sales tax for funding street and sidewalk improvements that has been in place for 10 years. The tax, first approved by a vote of 68% in 2013, created a two-tenths of 1 percent sales tax that amounts to 2 cents on every $10 spent.
As of Tuesday night, 66.96% of Stanwood voters approved the tax’s renewal.
The renewal will keep the city’s current sales tax rate at 9.3% while funding Stanwood’s Transportation Benefit Fund for another decade.
The tax has generated about $550,000 per year since its inception, according to the city. Since the tax was instituted, Stanwood officials say the city has put about $3.6 million toward a dozen sidewalk preservation projects, several improvements to Americans with Disabilities Act accommodations and multiple upgrades to street lighting.
Lake Stevens transportation levy
Lake Stevens voters approved a sales tax hike of two-tenths of a percent by 51.75% of the ballots counted on Tuesday night. Like the Stanwood measure, the tax will add an extra 2 cents on every $10 purchase. If approved, the tax will fund a new Transportation Benefit District to maintain and improve city streets, sidewalks and pathways.
Earlier this year, a survey of 900 Lake Stevens residents showed 51% wanted the city to prioritize sidewalk improvement and expansion, especially around schools. Sixty-one percent of those surveyed preferred the idea of funding a new Transportation Benefit District via a sales tax instead of an increase in car tab fees.
City officials estimated the new tax will raise $1.5 million a year towards projects and matching grant funds.
Fire district merger
Voters overwhelmingly passed a ballot proposition to merge Fire District 23 in Robe Valley and Fire District 17 in Granite Falls, with over 88% approval among the 89 votes counted.
District 17 will take over all of District 23’s property and infrastructure. The Robe Valley station at 31907 Mountain Loop Highway will be used as a storage facility for Granite Falls Fire equipment.
Herald reporter Ellen Dennis contributed to this report.
Mallory Gruben is a Report for America corps member who writes about education for The Daily Herald.
Mallory Gruben: 425-339-3035; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @MalloryGruben.
Riley Haun: 425-339-3192; email@example.com; Twitter: @RHaunID.
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