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How does a levy work?

When a school district places a levy measure before voters, it is asking for the authority to collect a specific amount of money from local property taxes for a set period of time, usually four years in the case of Educational Maintenance and Operations levies or six years in the case of capital levies. Levies are approved if the ballot measure receives support from a majority of voters.

What happens when a levy expires?

When a levy expires, the school district can no longer collect the money through taxes, which means the programs and activities funded by that levy will no longer have that money. Levies work something like a magazine subscription, which is why school districts go back to voters every so often to ask that levies be renewed. As a levy is about to expire, the school district will typically go back to voters and ask to have the expiring levy replaced by a new levy.

What does the Educational Programs Levy pay for?

The Educational Programs Levy is used to cover the cost of programs and activities that are not funded by the state. Money from the Educational Programs Levy is used to pay for extra teachers and staff to reduce class size, sports and instrumental programs, extended-day lessons for students, new curriculum, substitutes, and for students recieving specialized services.

Is there a limit to how much money a school district can get from a levy?

Yes, the amount is limited by state law. A few years ago, the state capped the amount of money school districts could collect through local levies at no more than 24 percent of the previous year’s total revenue. As a result, the amount of money school districts could actually collect was often less than what voters had authorized. As the state continued to cut its funding for public education, state lawmakers felt school districts should have the authority to collect more money from local taxes. So, in 2010, the state Legislature passed a bill that increased the levy lid to 28 percent and changed the way the lid was calculated so that cuts in state funding would not reduce the amount of money a school district could collect through its levy. 

If property values go up, does that mean the school district will collect more money than it expected?

No. A levy is for a specific dollar amount. The school district cannot collect more money than what was approved by voters. Learn more about tax rates and property values on the tax rate page.