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Voters say 'yes' to Westside schools' tax levy override

Voters say 'yes' to Westside schools' tax levy override

Take a look at the number of Nebraska students enrolled in home-school for the 2021-22 school year and how it compares to previous years.

Westside Community Schools voters have decided a 15-cent tax levy override that has been in place for more than two decades will remain.

According to unofficial results from the Douglas County Election Commission, 60.8% of voters favored the override, while 39.2% voted against it.

About 7,754 mail-in ballots were received by the 5 p.m. Tuesday deadline. Voting was done by mail only.

“We’re very pleased and gratified with the vote count,” said Doug Krenzer, president of the Westside school board. “We were confident this was how it would turn out knowing the support we have in the district, but you never know with elections.”

Since 1998, Westside voters have approved a series of levy overrides that allowed the district to exceed the state’s general fund property tax levy limit of $1.05 per $100 of taxable value. Under state law, districts can ask voters for permission to raise that lid.

With the extra authority, the district could levy up to 15 cents over the statutory limit. A 15-cent increase would generate an additional $225 per year from a homeowner with a house valued at $150,000.

The new levy override will go into effect beginning with the 2023-24 fiscal year through the 2027-28 fiscal year.

In recent years, the Westside tax levy was below the $1.20 allowed by the override. Krenzer said Tuesday night that the district will continue to use only what is absolutely necessary of the 15-cent levy and the rest will not be utilized.

If the levy override didn’t pass on Tuesday, Krenzer said last month that the district would have to make budget cuts. He said the levy override allows the district to fund programs that make Westside unique, like modular scheduling at the high school and helping pay for teachers to pursue master’s degrees.

Westside voters last approved the levy override in 2017.

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Emily covers K-12 education, including Omaha Public Schools. Previously, Emily covered local government and the Nebraska Legislature for The World-Herald. Follow her on Twitter @emily_nitcher. Phone: 402-444-1192.

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