Taxes for new school buses never collected due to 'clerical error'

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The East Valley School District needs new school buses. Voters agreed - and approved a levy to provide the money to buy new buses. KREM 2's Lindsay Nadrich explains how that money was never collected.

The East Valley School District superintendent thought they had done everything by the book.

Voters approved tax money to buy 25 new school buses. The school system certified an election with the county auditor, got a loan from the county treasurer to buy eight buses ahead of time, and put the tax money in their annual budget.

But they forgot one critical step.

“The fact is, we have to certify the collection with the county assessor and we did not do that,” explained Kelly Shea, the East Valley School District superintendent.

This April, when the district had planned to collect the tax money, there was not any.

“Ever since I came to this district, I've been here now just a little over a year, the thing that I've tried to stand on is earning people's trust and confidence,” said Shea. “This is a mistake that we made, it was a clerical mistake it was not intentional, it was simply something we thought we had taken care of, but we hadn't.”

The district now has two options.

The first would allow them to collect the $1.5 million voters already approved in 2017 that will allow them to buy 12 new buses.

The second option would mean they collect the full $3 million voters approved but collect it all in 2017 instead of spreading the cost between 2016 and 2017.

School officials gave KREM 2 the following examples:

First option: If you own a home in the school district valued at $200,000 the levy would cost you $8.50 per month or $102 for the year.

Second option: if you own a home in the school district valued at $200,000 the levy would cost you $17 per month or $204 per year.

Before making their decision, the school district wants input from the public.

Officials will hold two public meetings, on Sept. 27 and 29 in the East Valley High School Library at 6 p.m.

They said they will make their decision about collection based on feedback from the public, but said they will need the full $3 million to be able to purchase the buses they need.

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