PUYALLUP, WA — Puyallup voters will see an education levy on their ballots this year, as the school district aims to offset a significant budget deficit. According to the Puyallup School District, without an approved levy, it faces a shortfall of nearly $40 million over the next three years, despite “significant administration and department reductions” already in place.
The Educational Programs and Operations Supplemental Levy would generate up to $37 million by a small increase to property taxes collected in 2021 and 2022. The new tax rate, per $1,000 in assessed value, would be $4.32 — a net increase of 49 cents, according to the district. The change to the tax bill for a home valued at $400,000 would be an extra $16 per month.
Officials said the existing deficit, estimated at $20 million for the current school year, is the result of several factors:
• Puyallup receives less funding per student than neighboring districts who receive between $395 to $1,717 more per student
• Unanticipated 6 percent reduction in enrollment and additional expenditures required due to the pandemic
• Facility costs, as well as staff costs remain unchanged
• Unemployment claims supporting furloughed staff
If approved, levy funding would help minimize, but not fully eliminate, the budget shortfall, the district said. The money would be used to pay for expenses related to COVID-19, competitive salaries for teachers, learning materials, and music, arts and athletic programs.
To help inform voters about the specifics of the levy, the school district will host a virtual town hall Wednesday, Oct. 21, at 6 p.m. Taxpayers can participate using Microsoft Teams. Learn more about the levy and Wednesday’s town hall on the school district website.
This article originally appeared on the Puyallup Patch