Battle Ground district has lowest school taxes in county, gets less than voters approved

Battle Ground Public Schools has the lowest school property tax rate among Clark County K-12 districts and will receive less in 2020 than voters approved. The Clark County Assessor’s office recently announced property tax rates for the 2020 calendar year.

The rates for Clark County school districts range from $3.08 per $1,000 of assessed value in the Battle Ground School District, to $5.56 per $1,000 of assessed value in the Camas School District. These rates do not include the schools property tax that the state collects and then redistributes to all schools in the state; however, these local rates do include the sum of each district’s maintenance and operations levy, capital levies, supplemental levies, tech levies and bonds. A chart comparing Clark County schools tax rates is on the taxes web page.

A comparison of previous years’ school tax rates (see taxes web page) also shows that the 2020 property tax rate for Battle Ground schools is less than what it was in the years prior to 2018 when the legislature’s new funding model took effect.

Also in 2020, Battle Ground Public Schools will receive fewer levy dollars than what voters approved. To meet the State Supreme Court’s order to fully fund basic education, the Washington Legislature capped the amount of local levy dollars districts can collect through property taxes and increased the amount that the state collects and redistributes to schools statewide. For 2019, the Legislature capped local school district levies at $1.50 (per $1,000 of assessed property value) and then raised the amount districts could collect to $2.50 per $1,000 beginning in 2020.

In 2017, Battle Ground voters approved a four-year levy to cover 2018-2021. For the calendar year 2020, the voter-approved levy amount would have been $34.9 million at a projected tax rate of $3.66. With the legislature-imposed levy cap, the district will receive less: $28.2 million.

The cap provides the district with fewer dollars than voters approved, but the 2020 cap increase gives Battle Ground Public Schools the ability to cover a projected annual average deficit of $4 million that would have resulted under the prior year’s levy cap. The district will also be able to complete much needed school maintenance and improvement projects, including increasing safety and security at older schools, and will phase in middle school sports that will use existing facilities beginning next year.

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