Talking Taxes and the February Bond

For the average home in Bethel the bond would be the equivalent of $35 per month.

Bethel’s February School Construction Bond will cost taxpayers $1.42 per thousand dollars of assessed value. For the average single family home in Bethel ($297,021), that would mean $35 a month, or $1.17 a day.

Because of the changes made last year in how the state funds public education, even with this increase, local school-related taxes in 2019 would still be lower than they were in 2018.

Local School Taxes 2018 (per $1,000 of assessed value)
Education Levy: $4.07
Technology Levy: $0.40
Old bonds: $1.45
Total: $5.92
Local School Taxes 2019 (per $1,000 of assessed value)
Education Levy: $1.50
Technology Levy: $0.44
Old bonds: $1.33
New bond: $1.42
Total: $4.69

Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Mike Lonergan confirmed this in an email to Superintendent Tom Seigel.

“…it is my opinion that both the school district tax rate and the average amount of school district tax per residential property will be lower in 2019 than in 2018.”

In November 2018, Bethel’s School Construction Bond failed just 307 votes shy of the required 60% supermajority. This was our fourth failed bond attempt since 2016. We are quickly running out of options for housing our growing population of students, and we are almost out of space to house portable classrooms.

With that in mind, our School Board voted unanimously to put another bond before the voters this coming February.

Big changes are in store for our district as we continue to grow hundreds of students every year. It will be necessary to change boundaries for many of our schools in 2019. By 2021 the district will have virtually exhausted the ability to house students and may be forced to go into a multi-track, year-round school schedule, which may cause significant new issues for family schedules and activities.

Another thing that must be considered is, as time goes on, construction costs will continue to rise. With each bond failure, key improvements will get more expensive, and timelines for fixing old schools and building new ones will keep getting pushed further out. With planning, permitting and construction time requirements, a new elementary school takes and average of three years to build, and a high school takes four years to build.

Election Day is February 12.

Residents can register to vote online here until January 14. After that, you can register to vote in person until February 4. More information about the bond is available here.