Election night looks bad for Lake Washington Bond, good for Klahanie coming to Sammamish

February 11, 2014

By Ari Cetron

Updated: Feb. 12, 3:01 p.m.

School levies in both of Sammamish’s major school districts passed easily, while a bond measure in the Lake Washington District looks to be in a close race.

Meanwhile, Sammamish’s neighbor to the south had a pair of votes with implications for Sammamish.

Vote by mail means that all of the election night results could change by the time the votes are finalized Feb. 25. Some decisions, however, seem likely.

All three levies in the Issaquah School District passed.

The district was seeking the renewal of its existing maintenance and operations levy, which provides a large chunk of employee salaries not covered by the state. That passed by a 62-32 margin.

The district also asked for a one-year, $1.7 million transportation levy, which passed 70-30. Finally, there was a $52 million capital levy aimed at improving technology and key repairs to facilities that passed 70-30

With the approval of all three levies, the total tax rate for a district property owner will rise eight cents to $4.83 per $1,000 in 2015. That equates to a $40 annual increase on a $500,000 home.

Voters in the Lake Washington School District approved a pair of tax levies. The two levies are to replace existing levies that will expire at year’s end. Each levy would last for four years. Taken together, they will represent a net increase of 28 cents per $1,000 dollars of assessed value above the current levies.

For the owner of a $500,000 home, that amounts to a $140-per-year year tax hike.

The first levy is a standard educational program and operation levy. This levy funds basic school district operations, including things like teacher salaries and other day-to-day expenses. It passed 64-36.

The other levy, for facilities and technology, would fund a number of capital projects, generally major renovations, support for athletic fields and technology. That passed 63-47.

The district also asked voters for a $755 million bond, one of the biggest if not the biggest school district bond in state history. As of election night, it seems they may have asked for too much. While the bond leads 57-43, bonds require 60 percent approval to pass.

If ultimately approved, the bonds would be sold to finance construction and major renovations of schools across the district over the next eight years, but the debt would be around longer.

The bond would add about 53 cents per $1,000 to property taxes for the next 20 years, according to district calculations. For the owner of a $500,000 home, that means an increase of $265 per year.

If it fails, district officials will have to scramble to find space for an estimated 4,000 students over the next eight years


What the neighbors think

One of the hottest button elections in the area, the issue of the Klahanie annexation seems to be breaking against the area becoming part of Issaquah. This vote, too, requires 60 percent approval to pass, at least to make the decision easy. As of election night, the vote was 50.13 percent for to 49.87 percent against (1,168-1,162).

If Klahanie voters ultimately decided to join Issaquah, the Issaquah City Council has the next move, as it will need to vote to approve the annexation. That gets complicated depending on the margin of victory. If the vote passes with between a 50 and 60 percent margin, The area could become part of Issaquah, but it would not have to assume any of Issaquah’s debt. The decision would then rest with the Issaquah City Council about whether to annex the area without residents paying off Issaquah’s outstanding bonds.

If Klahanie votes to join Issaquah with a margin of 60 percent or greater, then the area could join Issaquah and would assume the city’s debt.

If Klahanie does not vote to join Issaquah, all bets are off. The Issaquah council could volunteer to give up its right to annex the area of more than 10,000 people. If it refuses to do so, the Sammamish City Council has indicated it might take unprecedented steps to try and force it to do so. Then Sammamish could begin an annexation process of its own.

Sammamish residents will likely need to continue to bring their own bags when they go to shop in Issaquah. Issaquah voters look like they decided to continue a ban on plastic bags approved by its city council which was phased in starting March 2013. The election night vote was 51.6-48.4 in favor of maintaining the ban.

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