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December 13, 2019 | 6:44pm
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Property tax rates voted on and new and returning directors sworn in during School Board meeting

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FERNDALE, Wash. — The big topic of the Ferndale School Board meeting Tuesday, November 26th, was property taxes and there were 2 agenda items on the topic.

But first, 1 reelected and 2 newly elected directors were sworn in. Board President Dr Kevin Erickson was reelected and Jessie L. Deardorff and Melinda Cool were elected. All 3 ran unopposed in the 2019 General Election.

The board directors were then asked to approve a recommendation from District staff to set the property tax rate for the last year of the Ferndale School local Levy. While voters already approved to be taxed for the local levy at about $3.70 per $1,000 of assessed property value for 2016 through 2020, several legislative changes over recent years has caused the rate to change.

For instance, in 2018, the legislature capped local levy rates at $1.50 per $1,000. This was due to the increase in the state’s levy rate as the state began to more fully fund education. The expectation was the increase in taxes collected by the state would be offset by reduction in local district levy tax rates, resulting in little net difference to the taxpayers.

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During the campaign to pass a $112 million bond issue to build the new high school, projections were provided to assist voters in estimating the property tax impact of approving the bond and those projections assumed the $1.50 cap would remain in place for 2018 and subsequent years.

2019 Capital Bond Proposal - annual property tax estimates
Source: Support Ferndale Schools – https://supportferndaleschools.com/bond-info/propertytaxfaq/

But this year, the state legislature raised the levy cap from $1.50 to $2.50 for 2020. This meant the district had to decide whether to adopt the maximum allowed $2.50 rate, possible since voters had already approved the $3.70 rate, or be more aligned with the projections provided during the bond campaign.

It was decided by unanimous vote to set the 2020 levy tax rate at $2.17. Since district had been able to get a significantly lower interest rate for their initial bond issue than expected, the cost to taxpayers will be lower than the initial projections provided during the bond campaign. Applying those savings to the projected $1.50 levy rate resulted in a rate of $2.17. This rate, according to district officials, results in a net impact on taxpayers equating to what was projected during the bond campaign.

Secondly, board directors were asked to approve a recommendation from District staff to set the property tax rate for the replacement levy that would begin in 2021. This local school district levy will need to be approved by the voters and is expected to appear on a February 2020 Special Election ballot.

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It was decided by unanimous vote to bring the levy renewal request to the voters in February using the maximum allowed rate of $2.50.


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