(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But that figure may be outdated.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.
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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.