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Approval of new levy will lower property taxes for Sunnyside residents

Vote yes, pay less.

That's the slogan the committee backing the Sunnyside School District's replacement maintenance and operations levy has decided how to best sum up the $1.20 per $1,000 of property assessment homeowners will pay should it meet with voter approval.

School District Assistant Superintendent Greg Vegar was on hand this morning (Wednesday) to explain the Feb. 19 levy vote to Kiwanis Club members.

For every $1 the school district gets from the levy, the state kicks in $3 in levy equalization funds.

The state funding is currently being applied to pay for a bond that was used in part to build Sierra Vista Middle School and Sun Valley Elementary School. Vegar said that's part of the district's commitment to only one school district-related tax for homeowners.

If the maintenance and operations levy doesn't pass, taxpayers would end up paying $1.70 per $1,000 value of a home to pay for the bond, hence the committee's slogan.

Vegar said this isn't a new tax and citizens will actually pay less than they already are.

The levy funds will be used for school safety, student activities, enriched curriculum for teachers and technology.

For safety, the funds can be used for security officers and alarm systems.

When it comes to student activities, Vegar said, "It's for all extracurricular activities that take place. It's much broader than the athletic program...We say extracurricular, but truly we believe activities are a part of the curriculum."

Enriched curriculum for the school district doesn't mean just buying new books for students, but putting money towards training teachers as well, he said.

For technology, levy funding can help pay for the underlying technology system, not just computers.

This will be the first levy in which only 50 percent of the vote is necessary under the simple majority act passed by voters statewide last November. Vegar said colleagues around the state are perceiving that as being an easier target to hit, as opposed to the 60 percent required in the past.

Voters should see ballots in mailboxes by the beginning of February. Ballots are due back at the county auditor's office by Feb. 19.

Kiwanis Club member Jeff Matson said local businesses will be encouraged by the levy committee to put the slogan on their reader boards to remind and encourage voters to approve the levy.

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