Voters to act on school funding measures, fire district annexation

Granite Falls, Marysville, Stanwood and Sultan all suffered levy defeats in February. They’ll try again April 26.

Election

EVERETT — Voters in the Marysville, Sultan, Granite Falls and Stanwood-Camano school districts are getting asked this month to approve critical funding measures they rejected earlier this year.

Ballots are to go out Thursday for the April 26 special election, in which those voters will consider multi-year property tax levies to pay for classroom staff, special education services, athletic programs, computers and facility improvements not covered by state dollars. Each is intended to replace a levy expiring at the end of 2022.

“Special elections allow voters to have a say in how their local tax dollars are utilized. These measures directly impact our communities,” Snohomish County Auditor Garth Fell said in a statement.

The four districts are seeking approval of levies that failed to pass in February. State law allows districts to try twice in a calendar year to pass them.

Marysville, Sultan and Granite Falls are each running two levies — one for education and operations and the other for capital improvements and technology.

In Marysville, after each of the levies lost badly, the district Board of Directors slimmed the requests. They lowered the tax rate for the four-year education levy to $1.97 per $1,000 of assessed value, down from the $2.20 rate in the failed measure. This levy is the district’s second-largest funding source.

And they reduced the rate for the proposed capital levy to 26 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, down from the 60 cents voters rejected. It would bring in roughly $12.5 million over the next four years, compared to $28.6 million in the failed measure.

In Sultan, directors are re-running the property tax for education programs that produces 10% of revenue used to run the district. They dropped the rate for the capital levy to 95 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, 30 cents less than what voters turned down.

Granite Falls’ school leaders are re-running the same educational programs levy and capital improvements tax. The capital levy came close. It would have passed with a swing of 10 votes.

Stanwood-Camano will run the same four-year, $10.4 million capital improvement levy. It did not run an education levy. That district spans parts of Snohomish and Island counties.

A fifth school district, Lakewood, is seeking approval of a four-year, $3.8 million technology levy. It did not have any measures on the February ballot.

A simple majority is required for approval of an education program or capital levy.

And in Mill Creek, voters will consider a measure to annex the city into South County Fire starting Aug. 1.

Mill Creek is now part of Snohomish Regional Fire and Rescue. Its contract with that authority is expiring.

Ballots returned by mail do not require a stamp. But they must be postmarked no later than April 26. Be sure to check the last collection time on the postal box, because ballots that arrive with a postmark after election day will not be counted.

Another option is to use one of the county’s designated ballot drop boxes. Fifteen of those will be open around the clock until 8 p.m. on April 26.

Voters who have not received a ballot by April 16 should contact the elections office at 425-388-3444 or elections@snoco.org.

Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; jcornfield@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @dospueblos.

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