A special election Dec. 4 will allow Fort Dodge citizens to decide whether or not to grant a 37-cent increase in the physical plant and equipment levy for the Fort Dodge Community School District.
The revenue fund provides a maximum of $1.67 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The board approved a 33-cent levy, and voters 10 years ago approved an increase of 67 cents, for a total of $1 through property tax or from a mix of property tax and income surtax.
The FDCSD board is asking voters for both a 10-year renewal of the approved 67 cents and the additional 67 cents, for the maximum $1.67 levy.
"If the voters pass that measure it will generate an additional $600,000 roughly for the district and bring the total PPEL revenue to about a million and a half," Brandon Hansel, FDCSD director of financial services, said.
The levy funds only construction and maintenance projects, technology and transportation equipment. It does not fund school programs, activities or supplies.
According to Doug Van Zyl, FDCSD superintendent, the district's maintenance needs are great.
A public forum regarding a proposed increase to the Fort Dodge Community School District's
physical plant and equipment levy will be held
Nov. 29 at 7 p.m. at Fort Dodge Senior High.
"(Our) needs have grown and increased as far as taking a look at the infrastructure and the need to repair some of our buildings, from the roofs to windows, to lighting, heating, cooling. All those things, as in any building, have a need for repair and maintenance," he said. "The reason we need to have this levy done again is the 10 years are up, and this is what we use to do the majority of our facility needs and repairs."
The current levy generates $898,863 yearly for the district. This is not enough, Van Zyl said.
"In my estimation, and the estimation of our custodial maintenance group and our finance department, it really isn't," he said. "We have many facility needs that go unmet. Our folks do a great job of keeping our facilities up and running, but we have numerous sections of roofs that are in need of repair and we'd rather do that proactively than reactively."
He added, "This will allow us to begin getting caught back up on those things we haven't been able to get caught up on over the last few years."
It is not a question of the district overspending on projects, Van Zyl said.
"When you take a look at all the facilities we have, the amount of money we bring in for PPEL to use on those facilities, compared to many school districts, it is not an exorbitant amount," he said. "We actually try to monitor what we can do with our taxpayers, that's why there was a tax reduction last year of almost two dollars."
This is a request the district can only make once every 10 years, Van Zyl said.
"It's not something we'd be coming back out the following year and say, hey, we need to increase this levy again," he said. "It's in place. The taxpayers know it is there. Really the only way it changes is when the assessed value of our community goes up or down. That also generates some dollars for us as well."
It is also not a request the FDCSD school board makes lightly either, Van Zyl said.
"This is something the board had to take a look at and decide how did they want to do it, when did they want to do it, knowing that if we don't get this levy we become even more hampered in trying to be proactive in making sure our facilities are taken care of and making sure they're safe learning environments for our kids to be in," he said. "We felt we needed to ask for an increase to be able to take care of those needs."
Well-maintained buildings, made possible by PPEL funds, benefit the district's students, Van Zyl said.
"It shows them we are very serious about education. We want them to be learning in the very best suited environments, for them to be comfortable, warm, well taken care of," he said.
An increase in the PPEL fund is an investment in Fort Dodge education, Van Zyl said.
"Anytime you can put dollars toward students and education it's a great investment," he said. "Dollars that are invested in learning normally have a great return. Anytime we can invest dollars in students we get an immediate return because we see the satisfaction and the smiles on kids' faces."