Ballots due Tuesday for 3 school districts' elections

Washougal, Mount Pleasant, Woodland trying to pass levies

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

Published:

 

Special election

Washougal, maintenance and operations levy: Three years, through 2017, at $3.31 per $1,000 of assessed property value per year. The district’s current maintenance and operations levy rate is $2.79 per $1,000 of assessed home value.

Washougal, technology levy: Three-year levy through 2017. It starts at 37 cents per $1,000 of assessed value in 2015, drops to 35 cents in 2016 and 34 cents in 2017. The district’s existing technology levy is 13 cents per $1,000 of assessed home value.

Woodland, maintenance and operations levy: Three-year levy, through 2017. It starts at $2.96 per $1,000 of assessed value in 2015, before dropping to $2.88 in 2016 and $2.79 in 2017. The district’s current maintenance and operations levy rate is $2.45 per $1,000 of assessed home value.

Mount Pleasant, maintenance and operations levy: Two-year levy, through 2016. It starts at $3.85 per $1,000 of assessed property value in 2015 before dropping to $3.78 in 2016. The current levy rate is $2.44 per $1,000 of assessed home value.

Procrastinators needn't worry. There's still time, and ways, to cast a ballot for Tuesday's special election in three local school districts.

"We will help people however we can," said Cathie Garber, Clark County's elections supervisor.

On the ballot are several school district money measures. The Washougal, Woodland and Mount Pleasant school districts are seeking voter approval for a series of levies that would pay for educational programs and technological improvements. All three districts are looking to replace expiring maintenance and operations levies. On top of that, the Washougal School District wants to replace its expiring technology levy. The levies need more than 50 percent approval to pass.

Even though the ballots haven't been counted, one prediction is shaping up to be true: This winter's special election hasn't spurred much interest, which is typical for such votes.

Of the 11,265 eligible Clark County voters who can take part in the election, only 2,271 have chosen to participate thus far, about 23 percent turnout. The county had anticipated a 38 percent turnout. For that to be true, the county elections office will need to receive another 2,000 ballots.

More votes will come from Cowlitz County, where part of the Woodland School District lies, and Skamania County, which shares Mount Pleasant with Clark County.

The election is expected to cost roughly $40,000, and the county has done what it can do to help spur turnout.

Whether the county's assistance makes a difference will depend on whether people actually use it.

Take for example a ballot drop-off box at the Washougal Community Center, 1681 C St., which will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday. People will still have to brave the elements to drop off their ballots there. The same is true for the 24-hour drop box in downtown Vancouver on West 14th Street between Franklin and Esther streets in Vancouver.

Even voters who have seemingly lost their ballots can get them replaced without leaving their homes. The county will electronically send replacement ballots, which voters can print, vote and mail.

But time is running out. Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday to be counted.

People have had 21 days to fill out and mail off their ballots. So, while there will likely be a large number of stragglers, Garber said she isn't sure that will greatly improve the turnout numbers.

"There are a lot of people who wait until the end," Garber said, "but mostly that's with candidates, not levies."

More information about the election, including how to receive a replacement ballot, is at www.clark.wa.gov/elections.