Excerpts from a flyer sent to Mt. Pleasant Community School District ResidentsWritten by Theresa Rose on June 26, 2015
On July 1, 1998 the state of Iowa authorized the collection of a one cent local option sales tax for any county willing to have residents pass this tax. The tax was called School infrastructure Local Option(SILO) and was to be used for the renovation and construction of school buildings within the school districts represented in that county. Due to the success of this tax and the positive effect it was having on improving schools, the state of Iowa passed, effective July 1, 2008, a statewide one cent sales tax called Secure an Advanced Vision of Education (SAVE) This tax, collected by the Iowa Department of Revenue is not scheduled to sunset until 2029. Mt. Pleasant’s Revenue Purpose Statement expires in 2022 and limits the district’s ability to use these funds to their maximum. This creates a significant barrier to big picture and long term planning. According to information in the flyer, the thing about passing the RPS under the SAVE program is that it has zero effect on the amount of property taxes paid. Current sales tax revenue projections suggest the school district can borrow approximately $9.6 million under the SAVE program. A significant about of funding would go to existing buildings to address ADA accessibility, electrical, heating/cooling, assuring buildings are safe and secure, improving lighting and many other much needed improvements. Current interest rates are at historic lows, which allows the district to minimize this cost to the greatest extent possible. Another advantage of borrowing is that it allows the district to engage in more effective long range facility planning by making larger sums of funding available to tackle bigger projects (i.e. elementary air conditioning, additional classroom spaces and improved security) The district is setting aside a portion of the sales tax proceeds to cover other obligations including, but not limited to bus leases, minor building projects and technology improvements. If the RPS passes on June 30 committees of teachers, parents, administrators and students will work with architects to complete the design stage of these projects. The Facility Committee’s recommendation can be viewed at http://wwwmt-pleasant.k12ia.us/ There is a priority to these recommendations. There certainly is a limit to a reasonable number of improvements or new construction projects that can be effectively managed given current district staff. Code of Iowa chapter 423(E) and 423(F) which provides for the one cent sales tax funding to Iowa schools is clear in that these funds must be used for school infrastructure needs. Sales tax money cannot be used to supplement or enrich the instructional program.
Voter approval of the revenue purpose statement requires a 50% plus one simple majority vote. The vote is June 30, 2015. Polls are open from 7 am to 8 pm at Mt. Pleasant’s Cottrell Gym and at the Salem Community Center. Vote absentee in person in the Henry County Auditor’s office. Absentee ballots that have been mailed to voters must be returned to the County Auditor’s office on or before June 30. You have until noon June 26 to request an absentee ballot.