Issaquah schools were handed a solid endorsement by area voters in the Feb. 9 special election, maintaining levy funding in three different measures by nearly 2 to 1 margins.
But enthusiasm for a fourth regional levy for libraries appears weak. As of Wednesday evening, the King County Library Service levy is barely passing, with 51 percent of the vote.
With an estimated 97 percent of expected votes tallied, 65 percent of voters in the Issaquah school district approved a maintenance and operations levy, 65 percent for a school bus transportation levy, and 63 percent for a technology and repairs levy. The school levies need a simple majority, 50 percent, to pass. County elections officials expected an overall turnout rate of 35 percent of registered voters to cast ballots for the special election.
While the school levies passed easily, Issaquah School District spokesperson Sara Niegowski was taking nothing for granted.
“For them to show that they support us is really important to us,” she said. “The Issaquah community has always been supportive of public schools.”
The margin of voter approval for school levies appears to be slipping, however. The last time the school district asked for levy funding in 2006, the measures passed by 71-72 percent.
“This is definitely a time when people are paying attention to their personal finances,” Niegowski said.
Librarians, meanwhile, were nervously watching for an updated tally the day after the election, after results on election night gave them approval of a levy increase by just over 1,000 votes. When the tallies were updated late Wednesday and gave them a 4,500 vote lead, or roughly 2 percent, King County Library System Director Bill Ptacek was breathing a sigh of relief.
“We’re feeling positive about it,” he said. “We’ll do everything in our power to ensure the library service will be as great as it always has been, and continues to live up to expectations.”
The KCLS tax levy measure, if approval remains over 50 percent, will bring the proportion of property taxes dedicated to the county library system back to 50 cents for every $1000 in property valuation for 2011 and for ever year thereafter. The measure would raise the amount of property tax paid by $32 for a homeowner in a home valued at $400,000.
Support for libraries also fell back from easily passing a similar measure in 2002.
“Times are different,” said Ptacek. “We want to get the public to weigh in, and now we’re waiting for the verdict.”