Levies: Nampa sets election, other districts OK emergency levy

(UPDATED, 1:42 p.m., with emergency levies in West Ada and Kimberly districts.)

Nampa school trustees have decided to seek a larger supplemental property tax levy — and a tax increase.

On Nov. 3, voters will decide on a two-year, $15.56 million supplemental levy, designed to replace the two-year, $6.8 million levy voters approved in March 2014.

Nampa.logoWith that levy due to expire next year, trustees spent Tuesday night weighing their options for the future.

The plan they approved would put more than $7 million into curriculum and technology updates and earmarks $6.8 million to maintain instructional programs. In other upgrades, the district would use $1 million over two years to add 10 teachers, and $630,000 for athletics and music.

The bottom line, for taxpayers: The levy would cost an additional $25 for every $100,000 of taxable property value. The current tax levies $423 for every $100,000 of taxable value.

The $15.56 million plan reflects a middle ground of sorts.

Trustees turned down a plan to essentially double the existing levy — a proposal that would not have required a tax increase. Rising property values would have absorbed an increase to a two-year, $13.56 million levy. But trustee Mandy Simpson urged her colleagues not to settle for what she described as a bottom-of-the-barrel proposal. “I think we really have to set these kids up for success,” she said, according to the Idaho Statesman.

Trustees also turned down a proposal for a two-year, $17.82 million levy, after some debate. “I’m torn between my heart and my head,” trustee Bob Otten said, according to the Idaho Press-Tribune. “I would like to see the $8.9 million become the supplemental levy because I see the need is there. … (But) I’m not sure we have the whole community behind this.”

Nampa’s decision means two of the state’s three largest school districts will go before voters on Nov. 3 seeking help from taxpayers. Last week, West Ada district trustees voted to pursue another two-year, $28 million levy.

In other property tax levy news, the rural Buhl School District will collect $150,000 this year to cope with an unexpected enrollment increase.

Trustees approved the emergency levy Tuesday night, the Twin Falls Times-News reported. The decision comes on the heels of a 5 percent enrollment increase, or an influx of 66 students. And while the nearby Twin Falls School District attributed its enrollment increase to employment at the nearby Clif Bar and Chobani manufacturing plants, Buhl is baffled by its growth.

“It just came out of nowhere,” school board chairman Jim Barker said, according to the Times-News.

Buhl isn’t the only rural Magic Valley district collecting a supplemental levy. In the face of a 4 percent enrollment increase, the Kimberly School District will collect a $75,408 levy, the Times-News reported.

Unlike a supplemental levy, emergency levies can be collected without voter approval. Among other fast-growing districts with an emergency levy this year, West Ada will collect close to $3.2 million, while Twin Falls will collect $1.3 million.

Friday is the deadline for districts to decide whether to collect an emergency levy.

More reading: Here’s a quick look at early enrollment numbers around the state.

Kevin Richert

Kevin Richert

Senior reporter and blogger Kevin Richert specializes in education politics and education policy. He has more than 30 years of experience in Idaho journalism. He is a frequent guest on "Idaho Reports" on Idaho Public Television and "Idaho Matters" on Boise State Public Radio. Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KevinRichert. He can be reached at [email protected]

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