DUNKERTON — A property tax levy used to maintain Dunkerton Community Schools’ roofs as well as purchase technology, buses and more will be on the ballot Tuesday.
District voters are being asked to renew the physical plant and equipment levy for another decade. A simple majority is required for passage.
“It really doesn’t end until 2020, but we always go sooner because there’s limited times when you can have elections,” said Superintendent Jim Stanton. “If we do this, this will take us to 2030.”
Polls are open from noon to 8 p.m. at the Dunkerton Public Library, 203 E. Tower St. District residents can also fill out an absentee ballot weekdays at the Black Hawk County Courthouse 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and until 11 a.m. on Tuesday. The Election Office is in Room 210 at the courthouse, 316 E. Fifth St., Waterloo.
Voting in favor of the measure would continue the property tax rate of $1.34 per $1,000 of taxable value. “The rate will stay exactly the same, we’re not asking for any change in that at all,” said Stanton. Currently, the district also has a Board of Education-approved PPEL of 33 cents per $1,000 of taxable value for a total of $1.67 between the two.
The district’s total property tax levy, including the PPEL, is $15.14 per $1,000 of taxable value.
For 2018-19, the voter-approved PPEL component of the overall tax levy paid by district property owners totals $74.50 on a $100,000 home, accounting for the state’s “rollback” order. It totals about $73 and $121, respectively, on every $100,000 of value for agricultural and commercial/industrial properties.
Revenues can be used for school infrastructure and equipment repairs, purchases, and improvements. “At the end of the year, (the state is) sending us about $280,000, and that’s what we have to work with,” said Stanton, for both the voter- and board-approved levy proceeds.
“The main thing we use it for is to buy buses,” he noted, setting aside $50,000 annually to buy one for about $100,000 every other year. In the years a bus isn’t purchased “we use it to upkeep the roofs on our schools. We also use it for technology.”
That doesn’t include smaller items like Chromebook computers for students, since the statute requires single items to cost at least $500. The technology purchases are focused on computer networking expenses, software licenses and copy machine leases.
“We’re going to continue to do the things that we’ve done,” said Stanton. Along with those main expenses filled by the physical plant and equipment levy, there have been many other needs met through the revenues in recent years.
There have been security updates to the school’s main entrance, locks added to other doors throughout the building and installation of cameras. The school’s second gym was renovated, cement work was done around the campus and areas built before 2004 were switched to LED lighting. Among the purchases was a marimba for the band and a 3-D printer for industrial technology.
“And all the funds we used for those came from our PPEL money,” said Stanton. In addition, PPEL dollars augmented funding for new baseball and softball dugouts.
“If we can use this money for those type of expenses, that leaves more money in our general fund to buy textbooks and pay for salaries,” he added. And a project like the switch to LED lighting helps to make more money available for those regular costs after the initial investment, as well.
“That has been a considerable savings for us from an energy standpoint,” said Stanton. “That’s saving the general fund down the road.”