Voters approve Bickleton school levy

BICKLETON - A Bickleton School District levy is comfortably passing this morning with 70 percent approval.

The vote yesterday, Tuesday, showed a total of 108 votes (70.6 percent) in favor of the three-year maintenance and operations levy and 45 (29.4 percent) opposed.

The levy will collect $150,000 each year for a total of $450,000, costing about $25 per year for property valued at $100,000.

Ric Palmer is superintendent of Bickleton schools, and he says the levy replaces a previous three-year measure that collected $65,000 each year with an assessment of $11 per year for property valued at $100,000.

The increase is due to additional costs for operating the school district's new building that opened this past fall.

"I'm extremely pleased," Palmer said of yesterday's result. "I want to thank our community for continued support of our schools."

Palmer noted three years ago the community approved a 10-year bond to build the new school as well as the initial levy, the district's first.

He says another reason for the increased amount in the levy just approved is that after this one expires in three years the district will not run another until the school building bond is paid off.

Palmer said last year the bond rate was $1.56 per $1,000 of valuation, or $156 on a property valued at $100,000.

He says the district doesn't yet know how much the bond rate will be for taxpayers over the next several years due to changes on how wind machines are valued.

"They (Klickitat County assessors) changed how they assess towers," Palmer says. "Now you get a bunch of dollars at the front end and then it tails off for depreciation."

He says that means property owners in the Bickleton School District could pay as much as $3 per $1,000 of valuation in the bond's final year, 2018.

Bickleton schools, Palmer says, don't want to add on to that with a levy after this new three-year measure expires. "We're trying to be proactive while bond rates are relatively low," he says.

The change in assessment for wind towers came after Bickleton schools passed their bond and levy three years ago.

"Back then we knew what we were dealing with," Palmer says of how the machines were previously valued. "Now we don't know, it's a moving target."


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