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Tacoma voters approve $650M annual bond measure to fix 11 public schools

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(The Center Square) – Tacoma Public Schools’ ballot measure to generate $650 million in general obligation bonds to help pay for health, safety and security upgrades passed with over 60% of voter approval.

Tacoma residents will see an additional $7.54 per month, or $90 a year, in bond repayments. Now, Tacoma taxpayers are set to pay a total of $140 per year with the two bonds combined, based on the 2024 total tax rate.

Proposition 1 sits at 69% approval by Tacoma voters, giving the school district enough confidence to call the election.

“Our hearts are overflowing with gratitude,” the district said in a social media post on Wednesday. “We are deeply thankful for your unwavering support of students and schools.”

The $650 million taxpayer-funded bond will replace and renovate 11 schools within the Tacoma school district. Revenue will also go toward basic improvements across the school district along with health, safety and security upgrades.

Five out of the 11 schools would need total replacement. Tacoma’s Idea High School was first built in 1912, the oldest out of the five schools. It serves high school students from across the school district who want to specifically study industrial design, engineering and art.

According to Tacoma Public Schools, nearly every school will receive improvements and safety upgrades ranging from repairing roofs to mechanical upgrades so buildings last longer. The district added that these improvements can save money in the long run.

The city issues bonds with the last bond series being sold in 2020. Prior to the latest bond being approved by voters, the Tacoma School District area’s property owners still have over $1 billion in existing bond payments to make from now through 2045.

The new bond proposal adds another $1 billion in taxes to cover the $650 million in the new bond’s principal plus the district’s estimated new bond’s $468 million in interest and fees.