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Voters decide Tuesday on levy

On Tuesday, voters will decide whether to continue paying a maintenance and operations levy benefiting students in the Oak Harbor School District.

That levy provides a variety of programs for students at all grade levels.

In the days leading up to the levy election, community volunteers are busy finishing their campaign promoting the levy.

“We’re down to the last week and we’ve done everything we can think of to do,” said Bill Hawkins, member of the volunteer group, Citizens for Better Schools.

Volunteers will be at Wal-Mart today handing out pamphlets informing shoppers about the levy election. They will also grabbing signs and head to busy street corners Tuesday to drum up last-second support.

Hawkins said volunteers will start sign waving at 7 a.m. and will stay on corners until polls close at 8 p.m.

If approved, property owners will continue paying a 75 cents per $1,000 assessed property value for the next four years. For a $200,000 home, the property tax for the owner would be $150.

The levy has to pass by a 60 percent margin and 5,736 voters have to participate to validate the election.

It already appears that the election will be valid. As of Thursday morning, the Island County Auditor’s office had received approximately 5,300 absentee ballots. Of the 17,266 registered voters in the school district, nearly 12,000 received an absentee ballot for the levy election. Absentee ballots have to be postmarked by March 8 to be counted.

If approved, the school district would collect about $1.85 million locally plus an additional $814,000 in state matching money in 2006. The amount collected each year would increase slightly while the levy rate would stay the same.

The Island County Auditor will certify the election results on March 18.

Voters originally approved the levy in 2001. The levy pays for art and physical education programs at the elementary schools, advanced placement and remediation classes at the high school, support for the hot lunch program and an extended elementary school day.

Volunteers have been busy promoting the levy since the beginning of the year doing such things as addressing community groups and telephoning voters.

They will learn how effective their efforts are on Tuesday evening. That’s when the first count of the levy election will be released.

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