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FD school board OKs second special election

President says he’s hopeful community will support effort

December 20, 2012
By BRANDON L. SUMMERS, , Messenger News

The Fort Dodge Community School District board approved a resolution ordering a second special election on continuing and increasing the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy.

The board is asking the public to renew a 10-year, 67-cent levy and also increase the levy by another 67-cents to meet district building needs. With the board-approved 33-cent levy, this will give the board the maximum $1.67 levy for the 10-year period beginning July 1, 2014.

Voters on Dec. 4 rejected the renewal and increase. The special election cost $11,440.86, paid for from the district's general fund.

The resolution was approved unanimously, with board members Stuart Cochrane and Jan Merz absent.

"I'm excited," Brian Forsythe, board vice president, said. "I think we get this back out there in front of the voters and explain what we're going to use the money for, I think it's a good thing and good for the district."

Forsythe said he's hopeful the community will support the renewal and increase this time.

"I'm very confident," he said. "If we explain ourselves a little better this time, I'm very optimistic it's going to pass."

According to Brandon Hansel, FDCSD director of financial services, following a $2 per $1,000 evaluation decrease, even with the 67-cent increase it is still a net decrease for Fort Dodge taxpayers.

"If you were to add the increase to the current total tax rate for fiscal year '13, which we're in, it would still be lower than any time in the previous four years," he said. "This new levy obviously does not take effect until fiscal year '15 school year."

The district can not raise the tax every year and $1.67 is the maximum levy, Hansel added.

Robert Hughes, FDCSD assistant superintendent, said the vote is being brought back to citizens to get their support for the renewal and the increase.

"We're trying to better inform the community so they understand what the physical plant and equipment levy supports and the necessity we have as a district," he said. "Those funds are essential for us to continue regular business and make sure we maintain our regular buildings and keep our bus fleet up to par."

The increase isn't something the district wants, it is something the district needs.

"The levy really helps us maintain our facilities and offer the best services possible," Hughes said. "It's not an extra piece, it's certainly an essential part of our functioning."

If the current 10-year, voter-approved levy isn't approved, the district will lose two-thirds of its buildings funds, Hughes said, and be forced to make cuts.

"We would have to compensate for that loss of income," he said. "We would then have to take those funds out of the general fund, which is based off a per pupil support. That obviously has a dramatic effect for the district in that we would have to compensate."

According to Hughes, 82 percent of the general fund budget goes to staffing.

"We would see reduction in teachers, which is a high concern for us," he said. "We want to make sure we maintain the best teaching staff available to the students, so that we can have low student teacher ratios and the best education possible for our kids."

Hughes hopes the community will support both the renewal of the levy and the increase.

"We are very hopeful people will come out and understand the parameters around the levy, what it does support," he said. "They'll take a look at that and be able to make an educated vote on that."

He added, "We want as many people voting as possible and desperately need and appreciate people supporting the school system."



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