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Back to the ballot box

FD school district to seek new PPEL vote

December 18, 2012
By BRANDON L. SUMMERS ( , Messenger News

The Fort Dodge Community School District board decided to request another special election on the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy in February.

The board agreed at a special meeting Monday to draft a second resolution this week to ask voters to both renew the 10-year 67-cent levy and also increase the levy by another 67 cents.

"What we had before is nice, but it doesn't meet the needs of the district," Doug Van Zyl, FDCSD superintendent, said.

A special election held Dec. 4 asking Fort Dodge citizens to both renew and increase the levy was rejected on a 726-584 vote.

The levy explicitly funds only construction and maintenance projects, technology, and transportation equipment Funds cannot be used for school programs, activities or supplies.

Without the renewal, the board will lose about two-thirds of its infrastructure funding, Van Zyl said.

"Without it being there, it does create a hardship for us as a district," he said. "The need for the levy is definitely there."

The next opportunity for a special election is Feb. 5.

Board member Matt Wagner said the group this time needed to do a better job of explaining that the district, even with the increase, would still have lowered taxes overall.

"People are unaware that the school district levy went down almost $2 a thousand. Our increase of 67 cents still represented a net decrease in their tax levy," he said. "People did not apparently understand that by voting that down, they weren't only voting down the increase, they were voting down the existing PPEL."

Board President Stuart Cochrane advocated taking the issue back to voters at the earliest date.

"One thing we have the benefit of is publicity," he said. "There's a number of people who have reached out to me, said this should have happened. Right now, I think there's enough people talking about it if we get back on it, get more voters in February, we're still going to get some bang from the publicity."

Wagner said it was better to try another special election sooner than later.

"It may not make it better, but I'd much rather know what the prognosis is when dealing with the budget," he said.

Cochrane said the board members, as elected representatives, must work even harder to reach out to the community for support.

"I'm frankly prepared to meet with a group every day," he said. "These aren't our buildings. These are the community's buildings. This isn't for us. It's for them."

No action was taken Monday. The board will meet Thursday to approve a resolution to submit to the Webster County Auditor's office to meet the Friday deadline for a February special election.

The new levy would take effect July 1, 2014.



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