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Editorial: Levies: A local choice

Back in November 2006, District 518's existing operating levy was due to expire. The district opted to a put a replacement levy referendum before voters, which passed by a margin of 2,876- 2,356.

The new operating levy, set at $1,000 per pupil unit, is slated to be in place until 2014. Its passage meant an additional $2.638 million per year for the district for its eight-year duration, with $1.378 million coming from the state and the rest from local property taxes.

If the referendum hadn't passed, District 518 Superintendent John Landgaard said in the Dec. 30, 2006, Daily Globe, "We would have ended up making about a million and a half dollars in reductions, which could have been partial reductions and partial spending fund balance." Programs and staffing would have seen notable cuts.

This newspaper endorsed passage of that referendum five years ago. Schools, after all, are the backbones of our communities, and critical to our overall prosperity. Yet Rep. Patrick Garofolo, R-Farmington, isn't a big fan of school levy votes, and said earlier this week that he plans "an unprecedented campaign against school leaders who plead poverty," as the Associated Press reported Monday.

Garofolo believes some school districts are "abusing the process" when it comes to levy votes. Perhaps this is true in some instances around the state, but we also know there's considerable hardship. Whether a levy referendum is right for a district should be up to that district's voters, not an overzealous state legislator.