The Fort Madison Community School District School Board voted unanimously to bring forth a Voted Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) to the voters in the district. The date for this special election is March 3rd, 2020.
Fort Madison Community School District is a safe and nurturing community of students and staff that offers state of the art educational opportunities, and is a wonderful place to plant roots and raise a family! Keeping our schools modern and operational is vital for the growth and future of the community.
What is a PPEL?
From www.educateiowa.gov: “The voters may authorize a voted Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (VPPEL) for a period not exceeding ten years and in an amount not exceeding $1.34 per thousand dollars of assessed valuation. The VPPEL revenues may be used for the same purposes as the original PPEL revenues. In addition, the board may obtain loans against future VPPEL revenues and may repay that debt with interest from the VPPEL. Iowa Code section 298.2.
This levy may be used for the following purposes: […], repairing, remodeling, reconstructing, improving, or expanding the school houses or buildings and additions to existing schoolhouses; expenditures for energy conservation; […]. Revenues may not be used for employee salaries or travel; supplies; printing costs or media services; or for any other purpose not expressly authorized by Iowa Code.”
What does this decision mean?
There will be a special election on March 3rd, 2020 where the community will be asked to approve the new voted PPEL. With anticipated levy numbers the FMCSD anticipates the property tax rate will remain the same. The voted PPEL will not have a tax rate impact.There will only be one question from FMCSD on the ballot.
Why did the School Board decide on a voted PPEL rather than GO Bond?
FMCSD is not ready to pursue another General Obligation (GO) Bond, as recommended by the community through previous voter results. The district, with the help of the community, will need to develop a long range plan that addresses learning space improvements. These recommendations and implementations are many months, possibly years, away. A Voted PPEL generates less money than a GO Bond but will allow getting to work immediately on some repairs on our oldest buildings as well as air conditioning at the High School. The priorities are based on a recent facility assessment performed by Estes.
How is this vote different from our previous votes?
In previous attempts the board has asked voters to approve a GO Bond, the bond was proposed to support the construction of a new elementary building in the district and would have generated roughly $30 million. The GO Bond has proven to be unsuccessful four times throughout the past four years.
In contrast, a Voted PPEL generates money each year, for up to ten years, and therefore is not enough money to build a new school. It does however generate enough money to continue to maintain our oldest buildings.
The Voted PPEL will be funded at $1.34 per $1,000 of assessed valuation of one’s property, which is a zero tax impact to the residents in Fort Madison Community School District currently. GO Bonds are funded usually by tax revenues to repay the issuing jurisdiction. PPEL has to be used specifically – some uses are repairing, remodeling, groundwork, maintenance, and more. A PPEL generates a capped amount per year, while a GO Bond generates a proposed amount. Both the PPEL and the GO Bond have to be voter approved – the PPEL must be voter approved at a rate of 50%+1 and the GO Bond must be voter approved at a rate of 60%+1.
What is the tax impact?
If the question on the ballot receives less than 50%+1 support, there is potential that taxpayers might see a decrease in their tax rate but it is not guaranteed. At this time, a voter approved PPEL will be coming at a zero tax impact, which means the taxpayers will not face a tax rate increase. All in all, things will stay the same for the taxpayer while the district would receive additional funds for maintaining buildings and upgrading security.
What is the immediate benefit to our parents and students if the voted PPEL passes?
A successful vote in March means voters support local public education, the future of Fort Madison Community School District, and understand the need to keep up with aging buildings.
Immediate projects to be addressed with the funds are the High School air conditioning project as well as relocation of the main offices at both elementaries to more suitable locations. Additionally, the district can get to work on designing more secure entrances for both elementary schools.
The community will help secure the future of FMCSD as this allows the district time to develop a long range plan that will address upgrading learning spaces for all of our students.
Part of that plan may be to pay off middle school bond early which could leave the district with money in 2021 to take action on the long range facility plan. For this to be a possibility the community would need to pass an RPS (Revenue Purpose Statement) in September.
What will be next for FMCSD and the community?
FMCSD will form a facility committee that will develop a long range plan that will address needs to upgraded learning spaces for our youngest students.
Students at Lincoln and Richardson will be in even more secure buildings for the 2020/2021 School year.