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Tahoma School District No. 409

Proposition No. 3
School Bus Levy

The Board of Directors approved Resolution No. 2017-27 authorizing a levy for school buses. This levy funds new and replacement school buses and authorizes the following excess levy on all taxable property within the District:


Levy Rate/$1,000
Assessed Value


2019 $0.14 $1,000,000
2020 $0.13 $1,000,000

all as provided in Resolution No. 2017-27. Should this proposition be approved?



Passage of Proposition No. 3 would allow for the levy of $1,000,000 in property taxes within Tahoma School District for collection in 2019 and the levy of $1,000,000 in property taxes for collection in 2020.  In accordance with Resolution No. 2017-27 approving this proposition, these taxes would be deposited in the Tahoma School District’s Transportation Vehicle Fund to pay part of the costs of acquiring new school buses to meet projected population growth and allow for the retirement of older and more costly to operate buses of the District.  If authorized by the voters, such property taxes would be collected at the rates estimated to be $0.14 per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2019 and $0.13 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2020.  The exact levy rate shall be adjusted based upon the actual assessed value of the property within the District at the time of the levy.

It has been 15 years since Tahoma asked voters for a levy to buy new buses. Since then, the district has grown by more than 2,000 students and opened a new high school. It’s time to buy more buses.

Recent changes in how the state funds schools have not provided any additional money to purchase buses. Tahoma’s bus fleet is aging and there is a need to add about 15 new, full-size buses so that older ones, purchased in the early 1990s, can be retired. The bus fleet also needs to grow in order to meet the demand created by more students and an additional school, added in the 2017 transition. With this two-year levy, Tahoma can modernize its bus fleet and improve flexibility.

The cost to taxpayers is estimated to be 14 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation in 2019 and 13 cents in 2020. The estimated annual cost to owners of a home valued at $400,000 would be $56 in 2019 and $52 in 2020. This levy is endorsed by teachers and the Maple Valley-Black Diamond Chamber of Commerce.

Let’s keep moving forward by continuing to provide safe, reliable student transportation. Please vote Yes to buy more buses!

In 2017 the Tahoma School District completed construction projects and opened the doors for two brand new schools – Lake Wilderness Elementary School and Tahoma High School. The community is generally proud of these schools, and the district still had $19M in capital projects funds as of June 2017. In addition, the district began the school year with $15M in reserves.  It seems that the district should have sufficient funds to absorb the $2M that would be generated from this levy for school buses, if they are really needed.

While there has been challenges with new busing routes and capacity concerns within the district, the administration has made clear that the issue is primarily driven by a shortage of bus drivers, not a shortage of buses.  Thus, this levy would not solve the transportation issues in our district.

With a significant property tax increase coming from the state for education combined with maximum increases from other taxing districts, the combined levies proposed by the district create a significant overall tax increase.  Now is not the time to increase our tax burden.

The district is prohibited by law from spending construction bond funds to buy buses. The reserve fund is already paying for planned transition costs to open the new high school and to keep an emergency fund. Taxpayers supported the last bus levy in 2002. The district has grown and needs additional buses; it also must replace old ones, purchased in the 1990s. Yes, more drivers are needed, but so are more buses. Please vote yes!

Submitted by: Angela Stewart, Katrina Montgomery, Sarah Gilbert

Every year the school district gets a transportation allocation from the state.  In 2016-2017, that allocation was over $3M. With the right planning, the district could have set aside funds over time in anticipation of future bus purchases.  Although buses may not have been the stated purpose behind the $15M in reserves held by the district, such reserves are for the very purpose of buying depreciable assets.  With such reserves, a bus levy is unnecessary.

Submitted by: Fletcher Barkdull

Simple majority (Wash. Const. art. VII, sec. 2(a))

For questions about this measure, contact: Kevin Patterson, Director of Public Relations 425-413-3400,

10 en-US Production

TTY: Relay 711

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