Levy FAQ

What is an Educational Programs and Operations (EP&O) levy?

Money from the EP&O levy is commonly used to support many of the educational programs or operations of the schools and district. Basic educational funding from Washington State falls short of covering the full costs of many of the programs and activities our community expects in our schools. While the state is working towards full funding for K-12 education, the state does not claim to fully fund all of the activities because they see them as locally supported initiatives.

Is this a new tax added to our existing taxes?

No. This is a replacement tax. In February of 2020, Elma voters renewed an expiring two-year levy to be collected through 2022. As that levy is set to expire at the end of this year, we are asking voters to renew the Educational Programs and Operations Levy for 2023 and 2024. If this levy is approved, voters would not be asked to approve another renewal levy until 2024.

How does our tax rate compare?
 District  Total Local School Tax Rate*
(includes bonds and levies)
 Shelton School District  $4.8375
 Aberdeen School District  $4.3455
 Hoquiam School District   $3.9983
 McCleary School District  $3.9441
 Montesano School District  $3.5412
 Tenino School District  $3.4727
 Ocosta School District  $3.4429
 Oakville School District  $3.4429
 Mary M. Knight School District  $2.4672
 Elma School District   $2.19 (Proposed)

Elma School District's tax rate is significantly less than many surrounding districts and is less than it has been in years prior. 289 of 295 school districts in Washington State have local levies. Those who do not are on Federal property and rely on federal funds due to lack of taxable land. 


Q: Why can't emergency pandemic funding be used for these needs?

School districts are receiving federal COVID relief dollars through the Elementary & Secondary School Emergency Relief Act (ESSER) to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic. Here is why we can't use ESSER funds to replace the local levy:

  • ESSER dollars are not ongoing funds
  • They are one-time funds to cover expenses associated with the pandemic
  • There are restrictions on how ESSER funds can be spent

Q: What happens if property values increase?

If property values go up, the average tax rate is adjusted downward. The school district cannot collect more that the total amount approved by voters. Increases in property values do not generate more revenue for the school district.

Q: How will this tax impact senior citizens?

Low-income seniors and people with disabilities may qualify for an exemption.

To apply for this exemption, please visit: https://www.co.grays-harbor.wa.us/government/assessor/exemptions.php (Grays Harbor)
https://masoncountywa.gov/assessor/property-tax-exemptions.php (Mason County)

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