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Kent School Board denies land transfer to Tahoma

The Kent School Board voted to deny a petition to allow the Forest Creek neighborhood to become a part of the Tahoma School District and approved an ordinance to let students who live in the neighborhood attend Tahoma schools without needing to obtain a transfer from Kent at its Jan. 22 meeting.

The ordinance specifies that the allowance for students to attend Tahoma schools without a transfer will be in place for 10 years. This also means that Kent will retain the tax revenue from the assessed valuation of the homes.

Residents of Forest Creek submitted a petition in September to the Puget Sound Educational Service District, which oversees boundary changes, to move their subdivision from the Kent School District to the Tahoma SchoolDistrict.

The request involves 28 homes and about a dozen current students, all of whom attend Tahoma on transfers, which must be obtained annually.

In the petition residents made their case based on the fact that residents of Forest Creek have to drive through another subdivision, Eastwood Forest — which is a part of the Tahoma School District — to reach Kent schools and that none of the students currently attend Kent schools.

In the Kent Board meeting minutes for Jan. 22 it was noted that the loss in assessed valuation that would occur if the neighborhood was transferred to Tahoma would result in a 21 cent increase in property taxes per $100,000 of assessed value for a homeowner in the Kent School District.

“The tax implications are negligible for both districts,” Patterson wrote in an email Dec. 12. “It is estimated to lower the total tax rate for Tahoma taxpayers by 0.14 percent per $1,000. It increases the district’s overall assessed valuation by $5,360,000, bringing us up to $3,947,979,281. Kent’s AV goes down and their tax rate goes up by 0.03 percent. So there is virtually no change for either district.”

Patterson also noted the two districts did a similar transfer a few years ago in the Lake Youngs area.

In an email on Feb. 3, Kent Spokesman Chris Loftis, wrote that under the optional student attendance zone that the Board adopted for the neighborhood other districts — in this case Tahoma — would receive the per student funds from the state, which is currently about $9,600 per student per year, and Kent would retain the tax revenue.

“If one portion of the taxpayer base leaves the district without also lowering the expenditure responsibilities (i.e. fewer school(s) or fewer classrooms) then steady district expenditures are divided among the remaining taxpayers,” Loftis wrote on Feb. 4. “We have a responsibility then to protect the tax sharing responsibilities of the greater number of citizens.”

Kent has notified Tahoma, per the next step in the process outlined by the educational service district, and Patterson wrote in an email on Feb. 4 Tahoma has requested a hearing before the regional committee of the ESD. Hearings occur when the two districts don’t mutually agree on the course of action regarding a proposed transfer. The ESD committee will then be tasked with making the decision about to allow or deny the transfer. As of the Reporter’s deadline a hearing date had not been set.

 

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