The Truth About The Spokane School Bond Measure

SPOKANE — Citizens for Spokane Schools has been campaigning for your vote on a new levy and bond that has claimed for weeks, if approved, it won’t raise your taxes.

But that’s not necessarily true.

Recently television ads have been airing that ask voters to approve Spokane Public Schools’ renewal levy and bond. The ads explain the bond will replace and modernize schools and upgrade technology and the levy will fund programs and extracurricular activities.

While that’s true, the ad is misleading when it talks about levy rates. The ad claims, “the renewal levy is actually lower than you’re paying now.”

That is not true. The renewal levy is proposed at $356 for every $100,000 of your home’s assessed value, which is $70 more than the current levy of $286 per $100,000.

The ad continues with the claim that, “the renewal bond is the same rate as we’ve paid since 2003.”

That too is not true. The proposed bond is $196 per $100,000 but tax records show the levy rate has fallen from 194 to 148 in the past six years so the proposed bond could be about $50 more.

The group Citizens for Spokane Schools is responsible for the ads not the school district. The district did not approve the ads. Barb Chamberlain is the group’s co-chair .

“This is a lesson to me as a taxpayer as well as volunteer to go back and do the math one more time,” Chamberlain said.

When asked if it was her group’s intent to intentionally mislead voters, Chamberlain said, “[A]bsolutely not. Our focus is to talk about what the dollars do.”

Chamberlain went on to admit the ads could be considered misleading, saying that claims that the new bond and levy “doesn’t cost you anymore than your already paying” as the Ad claims is “not an accurate statement … it’s an honest, enthusiastic statement.”

Chamberlain says their group will do better next time.

“We’re definitely going back and looking at what we created and how we could word it more carefully to make sure voters have good info we want them to understand why to vote yes,” she said.

Spokane Public Schools says that the amount that’s approved by voters is not always the amount that’s used. That’s only a cap. Over the last three years the approved levy rate has been consistently higher than what was actually charged to taxpayers.