Statewide, emergency school levy bill climbs

Across Idaho, taxpayers will pay at least $8.1 million in new property taxes, to help school districts deal with growing enrollment.

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Continuing enrollment increases in West Ada schools have triggered a property tax increase. This year’s emergency school levy will cost $20.97 per $100,000 of taxable property, up from $7.97 a year ago. (photo by Andrew Reed, Idaho Education News.)

That’s a considerable increase from 2014-15, when districts collected $6.4 million in emergency levies. But the difference can be explained by one district: the rapidly growing West Ada School District, which boosted its emergency levy by more than $2 million.

Trustees can unilaterally approve an emergency levy at the start of a school year —as long as their district’s enrollment meets growth thresholds in state law. Unlike supplemental and plant facilities levies, emergency levies do not require voter approval.

Friday was the deadline to approve an emergency levy for 2015-16. It’s not exactly clear how many districts decided to approve such a levy. The State Department of Education does not tally up this information, and instead will wait for the State Tax Commission to compile the data. That list won’t be available until later this month, commission spokeswoman Renee Eymann said.

Idaho Education News has compiled partial information by contacting the 13 districts that collected emergency levies in 2014-15, and by tracking news coverage from across the state.

Here’s what we know at this point. A dozen districts will collect more than $8.1 million in emergency levies. At least three districts — Boise, Kuna and Jerome — decided not to collect an emergency levy, even though they could have. And in three other districts — Idaho Falls, Wendell and Fruitland — emergency levies will no longer be on the books in 2015-16.

Here’s a rundown of emergency levies across the state:

West Ada: $3,168,810. With enrollment up by nearly 700 students from 2014-15, the district ramped up its emergency levy, from $1.1 million a year ago. This year’s levy will increase taxes by $20.97 on $100,000 of taxable property.

Twin Falls: $1.3 million. The money will be used to hire six para-educators and a half-time teacher, and to purchase supplies and books. The cost: $38.33 on $100,000 of taxable property.

Coeur d’Alene: $1.2 million. The money will go toward hiring teachers and assistants, supply purchases and, perhaps, additional bus routes. The cost: $14.84 on $100,000 of taxable property.

Bonneville: $605,544. The new levy will not increase taxes in the Eastern Idaho district, which will go back before voters in November seeking a bond issue for a new high school.

Jefferson County: $549,958.

Nampa: $478,000. About $150,000 will go to hire teacher’s aides in crowded elementary schools, while $100,000 will be used to replace outdated sports safety equipment. The district’s first emergency levy since 2012-13 will increase taxes by $12 on $100,000 of taxable property.

Teton County: $214,544. The levy will cost $15.40 on $100,000 of taxable property.

Middleton: $190,000. The Canyon County district was eligible to collect $568,000, Superintendent Richard Bauscher said, but trustees opted for a smaller levy that will hold the line on property tax rates.

Lakeland: $184,140. The cost: $8.16 on $100,000 of taxable property.

Buhl: $150,000 (source: The Times-News, Twin Falls).

Kimberly: $75,408 (source: The Times-News).

Caldwell: $74,550. The levy will not increase taxes, the Idaho Press-Tribune reported.