Community advocate and former state representative Emily Wicks waves signs at the corner of 4th and State along with Christie Ryba-Johnson and Matt Ruskowski, both Marysville School District employees, in support of a school levy being voted on Tuesday in Marysville. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Community advocate and former state representative Emily Wicks waves signs at the corner of 4th and State along with Christie Ryba-Johnson and Matt Ruskowski, both Marysville School District employees, in support of a school levy being voted on Tuesday in Marysville. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Sweet relief for Marysville School District in Valentine’s Day election

After four failed attempts in two years, a Marysville levy added to its margin Wednesday.

MARYSVILLE — Voters showed the Marysville School District some love this Valentine’s Day.

After two days of ballot counting the results of a special election on Feb. 14, a multi-year property tax to pay for school programs and operations was leading 54.8% to 45.17%, with more than nearly 12,000 votes counted. If the majority “yes” votes hold in later counts, the district can celebrate passing what school leaders called the “most critical levy” in the district’s history.

Voters were also approving renewal of a transportation sales tax in Arlington and supporting a seven-member commission to govern Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue.

Marysville levy

The four-year school levy was passing by about 1,100 votes by Wednesday night. Of the 11,977 ballots counted, 54.8% approved the tax. The measure needs a simple majority to pass.

That’s a slight bump from the initial count Tuesday night, which showed 53% approval.

“Last night, you probably could hear us celebrating,” Cindy Gobel, chair of the pro-levy Best Schools Marysville political action committee, told The Daily Herald on Wednesday morning. “I think we all felt really good, because we all worked so hard.”

About 4,800 ballots were left to count, so the result isn’t final yet. But Marysville teachers union President Becky Roberts remained cautiously optimistic that the rest of the ballots will bring a similar margin of “yes” votes.

“It’s not over until it’s over, as they say,” Roberts said on Wednesday morning. “But I think that this is a good sign, that we are up by six points. … I feel like we have a little bit of cushion.”

The tax would raise almost $108 million over four years, including $25 million in 2024. The district estimated it would cost voters about $1.67 per $1,000 of assessed property value, or $1,002 annually on a home valued at $600,000, the median price in Marysville according to Zillow and Redfin.

The levy usually makes up about 18% of the district’s budget. It helps pay for staff, supplies, transportation and extracurricular activities. Without it, the district would face deep budget cuts. In the worst-case scenario, another levy failure could trigger the state superintendent’s office and the regional educational services district to put the district on “binding conditions,” or strict fiscal rules to help balance the budget.

In 2022, the district tried twice to pass a programs and operations levy. Both attempts failed, as did separate technology levies that ran alongside them.

This year, the school board came back with a lower tax rate, without adding another tech levy to the ballot.

“There were still people who voted no, and I think one of the things we noticed is that there is still a need for education, in regards to how levies work in our community,” Gobel said. “We definitely acknowledge that there are still more opportunities to provide that education and be part of that conversation.”

Last election cycle, there was not a formal pro-levy committee. This year’s measure garnered support from Best Schools Marysville, whose members spoke with at least 3,500 voters to explain the measure and ask for a “yes” vote, Gobel said.

Roberts said “quite a few” teachers participated in events hosted by the committee. That included doorbelling, sign-waving and calling voters.

“We are so grateful for the community support,” Roberts said. “I think that this puts us on a much more positive track with our community. I think we are going forward with a much more positive relationship between the school district, the community and the (Tulalip) Tribes.”

Levies are collected on a calendar year, so another $12.5 million in cuts, at least, are in order for 2023-24, whether or not this measure passes. However, a successful levy this year would eliminate the need to double those cuts.

“The passage of this measure means so much to our students, our schools, our district, and the overall Marysville and Tulalip community,” the district wrote in a press release. “It also sends a strong message that we are moving forward together to support all of the community’s children. Our local levy dollars stay in our schools and district, providing educational experiences for students beyond the state definition of basic education.”

Superintendent Zachary Robbins did not return requests for comment Wednesday.

Arlington road tax

In Arlington, a measure renewing a 0.2% sales tax for the city’s transportation benefit district was passing with 68.4% of the vote on Wednesday. The renewal would last another 10 years.

If the results hold, city leaders have said they will direct dollars into traffic calming efforts in neighborhoods and target areas where drivers speeding is a problem.

Nearly two-thirds of city voters first backed the sales tax in August 2013. Collections have totaled between $600,000 and $1 million annually, helping to pay for pavement preservation projects on nearly 19 miles of road this past decade, according to the city.

Fire commission

Voters were making clear they want Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue to be led by a seven-member Board of Commissioners.

A ballot measure to etch the number into law was passing by a margin of 66% to 34% on Wednesday. Under state law, the maximum number should be five unless altered by voters.

The district provides service to Lake Stevens, Monroe, Maltby, Clearview and a portion of unincorporated south Snohomish County. It covers about 180,000 people across 140 square miles.

The district took shape through several mergers between smaller fire districts in recent years. The unified district adopted its current name in 2020.

Herald writer Jerry Cornfield 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;; Twitter: @MalloryGruben.

Talk to us

More in Local News

An example of the Malicious Women Co. products (left) vs. the Malicious Mermaid's products (right). (U.S. District Court in Florida)
Judge: Cheeky candle copycat must pay Snohomish company over $800K

The owner of the Malicious Women Co. doesn’t expect to receive any money from the Malicious Mermaid, a Florida-based copycat.

A grave marker for Blaze the horse. (Photo provided)
After Darrington woman’s horse died, she didn’t know what to do

Sidney Montooth boarded her horse Blaze. When he died, she was “a wreck” — and at a loss as to what to do with his remains.

A fatal accident the afternoon of Dec. 18 near Clinton ended with one of the cars involved bursting into flames. The driver of the fully engulfed car was outside of the vehicle by the time first responders arrived at the scene. (Whidbey News-Times/Submitted photo)
Driver sentenced in 2021 crash that killed Everett couple

Danielle Cruz, formerly of Lynnwood, gets 17½ years in prison. She was impaired by drugs when she caused the crash that killed Sharon Gamble and Kenneth Weikle.

A person walks out of the Everett Clinic on Thursday, Sept. 7, 2023 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Everett Clinic changing name to parent company Optum in 2024

The parent company says the name change will not affect quality of care for patients in Snohomish County.

Tirhas Tesfatsion (GoFundMe) 20210727
Lynnwood settles for $1.7 million after 2021 suicide at city jail

Jail staff reportedly committed 16 safety check violations before they found Tirhas Tesfatsion, 47, unresponsive in her cell.

Trainer Marcia Henton feeds Lolita the killer whale, also known as Tokitae and Toki, inside her stadium tank at the Miami Seaquarium on Saturday, July 8, 2023, in Miami, Fla. After officials announced plans to move Lolita from the Seaquarium, trainers and veterinarians are now working to prepare her for the move. (Matias J. Ocner/Miami Herald/TNS)
Ashes of orca Tokitae finally home after her death last month in Miami

Her ashes will be scattered in a private ceremony by members of the Lummi Nation.

A Coast Guard cutter searches for a crashed chartered floatplane near Mutiny Bay Monday afternoon in Freeland, Washington on September 5, 2022.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
Wife of pilot killed in Whidbey Island floatplane crash files lawsuit

This is the lawsuit filed against companies associated with the aircraft’s operations and manufacturing.

June Robinson
Everett senator will head state Senate’s budget-writing committee

Come 2024, Sen. June Robinson will lead the Ways and Means Committee, giving her power in deciding the state budget.

Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin gives an address to the city council of her proposed 2024 budget at the Everett Police Department North Precinct in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Everett mayor presents balanced budget for 2024; future deficit looms

If approved by the City Council, the $438 million budget will fund more police staff, parks and infrastructure.

Most Read