Schools okay Local Option resolution

Voters in Hood River County will be asked on May 15 to renew a district tax known as Local Option Levy.

Hood River County School Board approved the resolution to refer the five-year levy (LOC) to voters in its meeting Wednesday.

Approval of the LOC would continue the $1.25 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, in addition to the standard property tax assessment voters have been paying since 2005.

The previous LOC, approved by voters in November 2012, runs for five years and is about to expire.

Renewal of the LOC would provide the district “continued funding to help maintain class sizes, a full school year, athletics and music, theater and arts programs, electives and co-curricular activities including band, choir, agriculture, engineering and robotics, along with career and technical and Advanced Placement courses, as well as Community Education.”

The tax was originally approved by voters in 2004, taking effect in the 2005-06 school year.

As Saundra Buchanan, the district’s chief financial officer, explained, the LOC is a formalized response to property tax limits imposed by passage of Measure 5 in 1990.

“The levy is the one tool the district has to allow the community to increase funding for school operations,” Buchanan noted. In 1997, the legislature amended the state constitution to add a new limit to Oregon’s local property tax system, to fill the gap between Measure 5 and what district needs.

Buchanan will file the levy with County Elections Feb. 23. The district plans community presentations on the LOC in March and April.

Ballots for the May election go out April 25.

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