Supplemental levies: by the numbers

(UPDATED, 4:13 p.m. Sept. 19, to clarify the number of districts with a levy on the books.)

I’ve taken a closer look at the growing number of supplemental levies in Idaho — reaching the conclusion that Idaho school districts have collected more than $1 billion in voter-approved property tax levies during Gov. Butch Otter’s tenure as governor.

In researching that story, I’ve cobbled together some other odds and ends. Here’s a sampling:

How many districts have a supplemental levy in place?

It depends on the definition. In 2013-14, voter-approved levies were in place in 91 of Idaho’s 115 school districts.

But a handful of districts — those with a large property tax base and relatively low enrollment — are allowed to collect “budget stabilization” levies. This is an offshoot of the property-tax law pushed by then Gov.-Jim Risch in 2006. Factor these levies into the equation, and you have 94 school districts collecting supplemental levies in 2013-14 — the number that seems most commonly used in the school funding debate.

But that figure may be outdated. Voters in five districts passed supplemental levies for 2014-15 and beyond — Garden Valley, Basin, Firth, Kamiah and Madison. That brings the updated to total to 95.

What’s the smallest district that collects a supplemental levy?

It’s the tiny Arbon Elementary school district in Power County, home to only 19 students. Voters have maintained a $50,000 levy, translating to $2,632 per student.

And what’s the largest district that doesn’t collect a supplemental levy?
As of right now, it’s the Jefferson County joint district in eastern Idaho — the state’s 14th largest district, with 5,106 students. A two-year, $2 million supplemental levy failed in Jefferson County in May 2013.

What are the biggies?

The largest levies, by district, in 2013-14:

  • Boise: $22,708,000.
  • Coeur d’Alene: $14,266,762.
  • West Ada: $14,00,000.
  • Lewiston: $12,567,112.
  • Moscow: $9,586,000.

As charter districts that were established before Idaho became a state, Boise and Lewiston have unique property taxing authority. For instance, Boise’s figure is inflated by three voter-approved levies that have remained on the books for years; the oldest dates back to 1983.

And what are smallest supplementals?

Again, these are 2013-14 rankings:

  • Arbon Elementary: $50,000.
  • Cambridge: $50,000.
  • Council: $50,000.
  • West Side: $90,000.
  • Meadows Valley: $145,000.

What about the long view?

These five districts have collected the most money in supplemental levies, from July 1, 1992 through June 30:

  • Boise: $250,576,000.
  • Lewiston: $210,174,167.
  • Idaho Falls: $134,879,000.
  • Coeur d’Alene: $130,615,056.
  • Moscow: $128,692,000.


Kevin Richert

About 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 KIVI 6 On Your Side; "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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