A special election Nov. 3 will give voters in Seaside School District 10 the option to renew a five-year local option tax to fund operations at the district’s four schools.
Ballots were sent out Oct. 14, and voters have until Nov. 3 to turn them in.
The question on the ballot asks if the district should renew its $0.52 tax per $1,000 of assessed property value for five years beginning 2016-17.
The measure renews a current local option tax, in place since 2000 to support the school district, which includes Seaside High School, Broadway Middle School, Seaside Heights Elementary School and Gearhart Elementary School and serves students from Seaside, Gearhart and Cannon Beach. This is the fourth time voters have the option to renew the levy, according to Superintendent Doug Dougherty.
If the measure is approved, the levy will be renewed at the same rate for the next five years, starting with school year 2016-17. Residents will not see an increase because of the local option tax.
According to the state’s Department of Revenue, most taxing districts are allowed to ask their patrons for temporary taxing authority above the permanent rate limitation. This authority is known as a “local option tax.” Local option taxes are limited to five years for operations and up to 10 years for capital construction purposes.
Each year the tax would provide funds for the district, from $1.22 million in 2016-17 up to $1.4 million in 2020-21. Overall, more than $6.5 million would be raised through the local option tax. This estimate is based on current data available from the Clatsop County assessor. Seaside’s total school budget for 2015-16 was just over $21 million.
The additional revenue has to be used for operational costs, or to maintain current programs, services and staffing levels — items that directly impact students’ classroom experience. It helps offset the costs of extra-curricular activities and sports making them more plentiful and robust, which is “very attractive to prospective teachers” and helps the district bring in and retain quality teachers, Dougherty said.
If the measure does not pass, the district will need to make reductions in programs and increase class sizes.
Lori Lum, co-chair of the Vote For Kids committee, said she believes the measure “is vital to the school district.” The committee, established about four months ago, raises awareness for the measure through presentations, handing out information and setting up signs.
Lum has four children in the school district and has seen the positive benefits of the additional revenue, but she said she would still be in favor of the measure, even if she didn’t.
“Good education leads to good community,” Lum said. “I’m all for a greater, stronger community and educating our kids.”
The local option levy is not related to building new school facilities at a different location. A bond measure to do so was proposed in 2013 and failed. Dougherty has said the district likely will present a new bond measure some time in the next year and a half. Renewing the local option tax is the first concern, however.
“We’ve been trying to keep that separate,” Dougherty said.
How to vote
Voters can turn in their ballots at several local drop sites:
• Clatsop County Clerk & Elections Office, 820 Exchange St., Suite 220, Astoria
• Cannon Beach City Hall, 163 E. Gower, Cannon Beach
• Gearhart City Hall, 698 Pacific Way, Gearhart
• Seaside City Hall, 989 Broadway, Seaside
All drop sites will be open until 8 p.m. on election day to receive ballots. For more information, visit www.co.clatsop.or.us/clerk/page/elections.
‘Good education leads to good community.’
Lori Lum, co-chair, Vote for Kids