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June 19, 2019

11/18/2015 10:36:00 AM
Tribe, school get closer to funding pact
Sandy Stokes

La Conner School officials say the Swinomish Indian Tribal Community has signed the agreement to provide $400,000 in funding to the schools.
But it wasn’t exactly the same as the one the school board signed last month.
The tribe added a clause similar to one the school board had previously taken out; the tribe wants the school district to recognize its right to levy property taxes on homes built on leased land. Meanwhile, the school district is angling for more open communication between the board and Tribal Senate.
On Monday the school district will meet at 5:30 p.m. at the district office, said Superintendent Tim Bruce. The agreement, which both sides have been negotiating for a year, is back on the agenda.
The possibility of the tribe contributing money to La Conner Schools came after 931 parcels for homes built by non-tribal members on leased reservation land were taken off the county tax rolls this year as a result of a federal court decision.
That put a hole of nearly $800,000 in the school’s budget, and much of the money was shifted to the remaining taxpayers — some homeowners saw their property tax jump by close to 25 percent.
The tribe established its own taxing authority and offered to contribute $400,000 to the schools from the money it collects from the homeowners in Shelter Bay and other leased land. The agreement will expire on Dec. 31, and the tribe and school district will have to negotiate again for a contribution next year.
School board president Rick Thompson said “if we get this agreement signed, we’ll be able to follow through with our goal of reducing taxes” on the taxpayers who were impacted this year.

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