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Jerome voters approve supplemental levy

Posted at 3:42 PM, Aug 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-27 18:00:28-04

JEROME, Idaho — Voters in Jerome have approved a supplemental levy for the Jerome School District.

The levy will be in place for another two years and will be worth $800,000 a year. The levy passed with around 63% in favor.

Supplemental levies are fairly common in districts across Idaho, and are used for general operational costs like staffing, equipment, and supplies.

As Idaho News 6 has reported, voters rejected a 26 million dollar bond levy for a new elementary school earlier this year. The district says the terminology surrounding levies can get confusing when you're looking at them on the ballot on election day.

"I hear the wrong terms used all the time," explained Superintendent Dale Layne. "I wish we could educate people a little better as far as what the differences are to help them make better decisions as they go to the polls to vote."

So what are the types of levies, and what's the difference between them?

Layne explains there are--for the most part--three types:

  • Supplemental Levies
    • Used for general operating costs
    • Can be used for supplies, equipment etc.
  • Plant Facility Levies
    • Used for small maintenance projects (repairing floors, replacing a roof on a school etc.)
    • In effect for 10 years
    • The district pays as they go
  • Bond Levies
    • Used for big projects (like building a new school)
    • Money can only be used for the project (can't be transferred to buy supplies etc.)
    • Similar to taking out a mortgage on a house
      • District borrows money and pays it back over time

"You can't tax 26 million dollars in one year. There's not enough property market value to do that. Just like when you go buy a home, most people don't have cash to just buy a home. Most people borrow money and pay it over time. That's what we're doing with a bond," Layne explained.

The district's possible next steps could be considering re-proposing that $26 million bond in the spring, but the district says they haven't made a decision yet.

The district has also taken the first step toward refinancing an existing bond. At the board meeting Monday, the board approved a refinancing option for a bond levy from 2014 for renovations to Jerome High School.

Layne explains refinancing could save taxpayers big bucks.

"With the numbers that we have right now, it's estimated we're going to save taxpayers just under 5 million dollars under the life of the current bond," Layne said. "That comes through taking a couple of years off at the end, and the interest rates are so low right now."

The district says the process will take some time, but this was the first step.