Voted Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (VPPEL) FAQ

Updated 3/3 8:53pm:

The measure passed with ~68% 
Yes – 734
No – 339

Table of Contents

Where Are The Poll Locations?

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday.

FM First Ward: City Hall, 811 Ave. E

FM Second Ward: McAleer Hall, 415 11th St.

FM Ward 3: Fort Madison Public Library, 1920 Ave. E

FM Ward 4A & B: Roling Hall, 2210 Ave. I

FM Ward 5 & Madison Township: Hilview Village, 1102 48th St.

Cedar/Franklin/Marion/Harrison Townships & the Cities of Houghton & St Paul: Pilot grove Savings Bank Community Room, 506 N. Main St., Donnellson.

Jefferson Township: Lee County Conservation Center, 2652 HWY 61, Montrose.

West Point /Pleasant Ridge/Denmark & Baltimore Townships in Henry County: West Point Library 317 Fifth St., West Point.

Washington/Green Bay & Union Townships in Des Moines County: Grace Bible Church, 3526 175th St.

What is a voted PPEL (VPPEL)?


Voted Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (VPPEL)

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 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: […]; payment of debts contracted for the erection or construction of school houses or buildings, not including interest on bonds; […]; repairing, remodeling, reconstructing, improving, or expanding the school houses or buildings and additions to existing schoolhouses; […]; payments to a municipality or other entity as required under section 403.19, subsection 2 [TIF]; […]. 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.

For specific appropriate and inappropriate uses of the PPEL fund and revenue sources, refer to Iowa Administrative Code chapter 281–98 and the Iowa Uniform Administrative Procedures Manual, chapter 9.

Why is FMCSD pursuing a VPPEL?

A voted PPEL provides funds for major maintenance repairs in our FMCSD schools. Initially FMCSD opted to pursue a GO Bond instead to eliminate having to make repairs to Richardson and Lincoln Elementary and build a new facility instead. It has been four years since the first GO Bond vote and it is now time to pursue a VPPEL to have funds for maintenance projects. 

The vast majority of Iowa School districts who pursue a VPPEL do so successfully. A voted PPEL generates funds that help school districts maintain and improve their buildings which is uncontroversial and necessary for operations. 

Between 2016 and 2018,  90 school districts have put a VPPEL in front of their community, it passed 88 times. Districts across Iowa, just as FMCSD, rely on these funds to keep up with aging buildings. 

To see what other districts have passed a VPPEL please see

2017-18 Voter Approved PPEL Elections Results.pdf

2016-17 Voter Approved PPEL Elections Results.pdf

2015-16 Voter Approved PPEL Elections Results.pdf

What is the Tax Impact if the Vote Passes?

A successful vote on March 3rd, 2020 generates $1 million per year for up to ten years with no increase to the school district tax levy rate. The community is able to grant the district additional financial resources without any additional tax burden. We believe this is a win-win for the community and the school district.

Why was the vote scheduled for March 3rd, 2020?

Unfortunately, FMCSD does not get to choose the date as there are only certain dates in a year where a special election can be held. 

Beginning July 1, 2019 school district voting falls in accordance with the below schedule based on even and odd-numbered years.

Even-numbered years:

1st Tuesday in March

2nd Tuesday in September

Odd-numbered years:

1st Tuesday in March

2nd Tuesday in September

1st Tuesday after the 1st Monday in November

If the decision was made to wait and place it on the next ballot, it would not be voted on until the second Tuesday in September of 2020.

What numbers does a VPPEL need to pass?

A voted PPEL needs 50% + 1 to succeed.

What will the money be used for?

The current plan is to use voted PPEL funds for maintenance projects around the district. Initially the top three priorities are

  • Richardson and Lincoln will receive updated and more secure entrances
  • Completion of High School air conditioning phase 3
  • Recoating Lincoln roof

As you may be aware a recent Facilities Condition Assessment revealed some other immediate needs at our oldest three buildings which will be addressed by a future Facility Committee. Should the long term plan be to keep K-3 students in Lincoln and Richardson  some of the voted PPEL funds will be used for Lincoln and Richardson repairs. This is dependent on Facility Committee recommendations. For a refresher on the findings of the facility assessment please visit our previous post here

When will projects start? 

The High School air conditioning project will start during the summer of 2020. We are excited to complete phase 3 of this multi phase project to get the High School fully air conditioned. Bids for Lincoln and Richardson entrance projects will go out in the Fall of 2020 and construction can get underway as soon as summer 2021. Lincoln roof recoating will also take place summer 2021.

Is the VPPEL a concession that there will not be any more votes on a new elementary building in the near future?

The voted PPEL does not generate enough money to provide a new facility for our K-3 students nor does it provide enough funds to do major improvements necessary at Lincoln and Richardson, such as adding a gym and improving learning spaces. The vote on March 3rd 2020 is a necessary building block in getting the district better positioned to provide enhanced learning spaces for K-12 students in the long run.

If the community votes against this option where do we go from here?

If the voted PPEL does not pass, the district will have to find alternative funding sources for the proposed projects and have to choose required maintenance jobs based on a greatest need basis. The funding from the PPEL allows us to utilize the money for necessary renovations while still leaving money to allow for unexpected maintenance expenses. 

This is a great opportunity to make funds available to the district without additional tax burden. However, if fewer than 50%+1 vote for this measure, the district would likely try another voted PPEL in September of 2020.

Can I vote absentee?

All eligible voters may complete the iowa Official Absentee Ballot Request Form. To obtain the form contact the Lee County Auditor or  download it at

Who is eligible to vote?

All voters in the Fort Madison Community School District boundaries are eligible to vote in this election.

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