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February Special Election ballots to be mailed soon, here’s what some Whatcom County voters are being asked to decide

WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. —  A Special Election will be held February 8th via mail-in ballots regarding approval or rejection of property taxes to fund 2 school districts and a proposed library.

Bellingham School District 501 Proposition 2022-3 General Obligation Bonds – $122,000,000

This measure proposes issuance of general obligation bonds maturing within 20 years in the principal amount of $122,000,000 for the purpose of funding the renovation, upgrade and new construction of school facilities. These bonds will be repaid via annual property taxes.

According to the Bellingham School District, the bonds are intended to be used, among other things, for construction of the district’s15th elementary school on district-owned property on King Mountain and creation of designs for the replacement of Carl Cozier, Columbia and Roosevelt elementary schools. Costs of construction of those replacement schools would be covered by future bond issues.

Voter-approved bonds need a 60-percent supermajority approval to pass.

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The district website detailed the tax impact of the proposition as follows.

If voters approve this bond, the rate per $1,000 assessed value will go from $3.47 in 2022 to $3.72 in 2023 and 2024. This means the combined tax rate for schools (levies and bonds) will increase by an estimated $16.90 per month in 2023 (compared with 2022) for a median homeowner* in Bellingham.

* We are using an estimated median assessed home value of $550,000 for 2022 and $566,500 for 2023. Your home’s assessed value is determined by the county.

Past/Current Bond and Levy Rate

  • 2018 Actual – $4.54
  • 2019 Actual – $3.57
  • 2020 – $3.61
  • 2021 – $3.48

Projected Bond and Levy Rate (approx.) **

  • 2022 – $3.47
  • 2023 – $3.72
  • 2024 – $3.72

** Estimated total school district combined bond and levy rate per $1000 assessed value. The rates are estimates based upon preliminary data from the Whatcom County Assessor’s Office, official data will be available in January 2022.

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Ferndale School District 502 Proposition 2022-1 School Programs and Operations Replacement Levy

This measure proposes a property tax levy of $11,000,000 in 2022 for collection in 2023 and $12,000,000 in 2023 for collection in 2024 to pay part of the educational programs and operations support costs expected to be incurred by the district.

According to the Ferndale School District website, these costs include payroll for psychologists, nurses, counselors, behavior support teams and paraeducators beyond what the state funding covers. Costs also include those associated with special education, advanced learning and the 8-period high school schedule and to provide students in grades 6-12 with their own computers, students in grades 3-5 their own computer in the classroom and access to computers at school for grades K-2.

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If approved, the 2-year levy tax rate will be $1.50 per $1,000 of assessed home value, collected in 2023 and 2024. The amount collected varies from year to year based on the assessed value of each property.

Voters in 2015 approved a 4-year levy with a tax rate of $3.70 but rate caps mandated by the state legislature subsequently reduced the maximum rate able to be applied. As a result, while allowed to apply a mil rate of $2.50 during 2020, the School Board opted for $2.17 instead. That was replaced by a voter-approved 2-year levy with a tax rate of $1.50 per thousand in 2021 and 2022.

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Whatcom County Rural Library District Proposition 2022-2 Establishing the Birch Bay Library Capital Facility Area. 

This measure proposes to establish the Birch Bay Library Capital Facility Area taxing district in order to levy property taxes to pay for up to $4,500,000 in general obligation 20-year bonds for the acquisition, construction, furnishing and equipping of a new library in Birch Bay at 7968 Birch Bay Drive.

This proposition failed by 26 votes in the 2021 November General Election and requires a 60-percent supermajority approval to pass.

2 Comments

  1. Mrilyn Rasmussen January 19, 2022

    As far as the Ferndale levy – just say no,

  2. Tom Warner January 19, 2022

    Vote no on Ferndale school district levy! They never spend money on what they say! They are corrupt! Back door deals!

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