You’ve read the campaign literature, devoured the newspaper articles and even fact-checked the numbers, both pro and con. But all that work won’t be worth a hill of beans if you don’t get your ballot in the mail by Tuesday.
Ballots – new envelopes and all – have been in the mail for a couple of weeks now, but now it’s time for them to be marked and returned by Feb. 14 if you want to make your feeling known on the school levy election affecting your district. Schools from Freeman to Nine Mile Falls are participating in the special election.
While mailed ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, there will are also several secure Spokane County drop boxes available at local libraries and at the downtown Spokane Transit Authority. Or, if you really want to eliminate the middle man or save the 45 cents for a stamp, take your ballot directly to the Spokane County Elections Office, 1033 W. Gardner Road.
Locally, voters are all being asked to extend existing property tax levies. Citizen advocates for the school have worked overtime on the phone, through yard signs and by doorbelling to let their neighbors know the levies are not a new tax, simply a continuance of what is already being paid.
In the Central Valley School District, voters are being asked to support a $4.19 rate per $1,000 in assessed valuation for the next three years. Voters supported that levy by 62 percent in 2009. School officials say the $27.1 million raised each year would go toward paying for textbooks, buses, special education, utilities, staff salaries, and programs like sports and music.
East Valley – which has had trouble passing capital facilities bonds – did see its last levy also pass, to the tune of 58 percent in 2009. The four-year EV levy would seek $4.44 per $1,000 in assessed value that would raise $10.9 million in 2013 to just shy of $12 million in 2016.
West Valley is looking for a passage of a three-year package at a rate of $4.69 that would bring in $7.84 million in the years 2013-2015. There is also a replacement technology levy being sought for 30 cents per $1,000 that will add another $1.5 million.
The aforementioned Freeman School District has a $2.93 per $1,000 request for three years.
All levy requests need to pass by a simple majority.
Voters may have noticed a new ballot sent to them in the mail. That’s because the Spokane County Elections Office will save $25,000 per year by reducing the weight of the ballots by removing the long flap, concealing voters’ signatures, from the envelope. Counties that have made similar moves include Thurston, Snohomish in King Counties.
While the move does speed processing and saves money, election officials are aware that not everyone is convinced that the new envelopes are secure. They say, however, that the real problem in identity theft is possession of a signature, not simply seeing it. Postal boxes and the election drop boxes are secure, collected from frequently and always locked.