Bond FAQs (bond finances)

  • How much money would the proposed February 2020 bond raise? What is the projected cost to the taxpaper?

    If approved by voters on February 11, 2020, the tax rate for the Snohomish School District's $470 million capital bond would be $0.98 per $1,000 of assessed valuation (based on 2019 tax rates). In the Snohomish School District, the average assessed home value is $460,000. For a home assessed at $460,000, the cost would be about $450/year or $38/month. All funding approved by Snohomish voters stays local and is used to support education in the Snohomish School District.

    What is the current amount of voter-approved local school funding? How does this bond proposal impact those numbers?
    Voter-approved local school funding includes 2018 operations levy, 2018 technology levy and 2004 and 2008 bonds. The dollar amounts shown on the below chart represent local Snohomish School District taxation rates per $1,000 of assessed valuation (data/figures available as of November 21, 2019). The 2021 figure includes the $0.98 should the February 2020 bond measure be approved (based on 2019 tax rates).

    Voter-approved local school funding chart

    What is the diffrence between a bond and a levy?
    A bond is a long-term investment that authorizes the district to purchase property for schools, construct new schools, or modernize existing schools. Bonds are sold to investors who are repaid with interest over time from property tax collections (typically 20 years).

    A levy is a local property tax passed by the voters of a school district that generates revenue to fund programs and services that the state does not pay for as part of “basic education.” Because the funding provided by the state does not cover the actual costs to operate a school district, districts often use levy funds to hire additional staff, or for student programming and services that are underfunded or not funded by the state. Some of the many things that levies help to fund may include: extracurricular activities, special education, transportation, food service, operations, grounds and maintenance, preschool, and other activities.

    Learn more about the difference between bonds and levies by clicking here.

    If approved in February 2020 when would the taxes from the 2020 bonds expire?
    If approved, taxes from the 2020 bonds would be collected beginning in 2021 and would expire in 2041.

    How are bonds approved?
    Both bonds and levies require voter approval, but in Washington bonds require a higher majority of voter approval than levies. Bonds require a supermajority to pass (60%).

    How and when does the district receive developer impact fees?
    Impact fees are calculated based on a formula developed to comply with the requirements of the Growth Management Act. The formula generates an impact fee where the district has growth-related capacity needs (based on student enrollment projections) and projects planned to address those needs within the six-year planning period. The Snohomish School District was last able to collect impact fees in 2013. The district will update its Capital Facilities Plan, which is the basis for collecting school impact fees, in 2020.   

    Does the state provide district construction dollars to aid in these projects?
    If the bond is approved by voters, state construction dollars would provide another $20 million to aid with construction costs. Receipt of those funds from the state is uncertain based upon state prioritization of funds.

    How much of our existing property taxes are earmarked for the 2004 and 2008 bonds?
    Throughout the years, the school district has refinanced some of the bonds to benefit the taxpayer and take advantage of lower interest rates. In 2019, the portion of your school district property taxes that was earmarked for bond repayment (2004 and 2008 bond measures) was $2.8752 per $1,000/assessed value.

    When will the taxes we are paying from the 2004 and 2008 bonds expire?
    The taxes paid from the previous bonds will expire in 2029. The Citizens Facilities Advisory Committee noted that the district could not wait until 2029 to address the facility needs.

    Why is this bond proposal so much more than the 2004 and 2008 bonds?
    Construction costs have vastly increased (in some cases doubled) within the current decade.

    How is the investor “rating” of a bond determined?
    When a bond issue is approved by voters, the school district receives a “rating” on its financial condition. This “rating” communicates the level of risk to investors who may purchase the district’s bonds. The higher a district’s rating, the lower the risk to investors and the lower the interest rate district taxpayers will pay for that bond. Snohomish School District's investor rating is AA+ (Standard & Poors - February 2016).

    • In May 2019 CFAC formulated a recommendation to the Board of Directors.
    • Learn more about CFAC, its members and its recommendations at

    Why can’t the district just remodel and add to the schools to save taxpayers’ money?

    • The buildings are at the end of their useful life. For example, heating and ventilation systems, windows, doors, flooring, cabinets, roofs, electrical power distribution, fire alarm systems need to be replaced.
    • All of the schools in the bond issue are not to current code compliance. For example, earthquake, energy, storm water and fire are codes that the buildings need to be updated for compliance.
    • All of the concrete-block schools do not readily lend themselves to remodel due to the large number of structural support walls to support the roof.
    • Many of the schools have numerous separate buildings causing issues for additions where they need to be instead locating new rooms where there is room to build.
    • The schools will not support two-story construction without significant structural work creating sprawling one-story schools.
    • The Citizens' Facility Advisory Committee (CFAC) analysis showed that remodel of existing buildings would result in larger buildings that would ultimately cost more (construction and on-going operational costs) than the cost of replacement with a new efficient two-story school.

    I'm a senior citizen or disabled person who meets certain income requirements, will I still have to pay taxes?
    Senior and disabled citizens who meet certain income requirements may be able to defer or be exempt from part or all of local school taxes. To learn more, click here to visit the Snohomish County Assessor’s Office website or call 425-388-3433.