Point Roberts, Blaine and Birch Bay voters will be faced with school district funding decisions on their ballots for the February 13 special election. Ballots are expected to be mailed and drop boxes will be open Wednesday, January 24, according to the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office.
The Blaine school district is asking voters to approve a replacement levy to help pay for district operations, which they say is especially needed in light of dwindling state funding and a $70 million bond to fund a host of capital improvement projects.
Proposition 1: Blaine school district replacement levy
Roughly 17 percent of Blaine school district’s operating budget comes from property tax levies paid for by residents of Point Roberts, Blaine and Birch Bay. While state funding takes care of many expenses for the district, the levy is needed to fill in the gap between what the state will pay for, and what the students of Blaine need, superintendent Christopher Granger said.
If passed, the 2025 levy rate will be $0.98 per $1,000 of assessed property value, and increase to $1 in 2026, $1.03 in 2027 and $1.04 in 2028. Over the course of the four-year levy, the tax would raise around $32 million.
Granger said the levy is crucial for the school district to retain staff and reduce the impact of a looming budget reduction.
“This is mission critical,” Granger said of the levy. “This is funding the gaps between the state model and what we actually need. I can’t emphasize enough to people how important this is for our students and staff and the community.”
The Blaine school board made it clear it doesn’t want “new taxes.” The proposed levy could, if property values rise two percent or less year over year, be a slight reduction in property tax payments, according to the district. The levy would raise roughly $7 million annually for the district and raise to $8.5 million by 2028. For a home valued at $500,000, homeowners would pay roughly $490 annually.
“You can’t just make that money up,” Granger said. “It’s not going to come from state funding. There’s not some miracle grant that’s going to save us. This is our community saying they value what we do for students and staff and recognizing that we need to fully fund education.”
Proposition 2: Blaine school district
The school district is also presenting a capital bond request to voters to fund various construction improvements including updates to Blaine Middle School, with additional funding going to playground and exterior lighting improvements at Point Roberts Primary School, more space for athletics at Pipeline Fields, and to develop designs for a new school in Birch Bay.
The district is paying off an earlier 25-year bond that had originally been set to expire by 2035. With those payments rolling off the books, the additional $70 million bond would not increase that tax rate from its current level, according to the district.
The tax rate is projected at $0.76 per $1,000 in assessed property value and would remain flat for the life of the bond. A house assessed at $500,000 in 2025 would pay $380.
Keeping tax rates at their previous levels was a priority for the committee tasked with developing the bond measure and prioritizing the district’s needs, Granger said.
“Primarily, the desire of the committee was no new taxes,” Granger said. “We wanted to determine the maximum dollar amount on a bond collection that would allow us to stay within that tax rate.”
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