A tale of two bonds

School bond issues not related

By RICK MORAIN
For The Jefferson Herald

Some area voters have reported confusion about the two upcoming school bond issue elections of area interest.

The two elections are not related. They will take place a couple of months apart, and are for two different educational institutions: Iowa Central Community College (ICCC) and the Greene County Community School District.

IOWA CENTRAL COMMUNITY COLLEGE

The Iowa Central bond issue election will be held Feb. 6 in all nine counties that compose the Iowa Central service area. That region includes Greene County.

The amount of the bond for which ICCC is seeking voter approval is $25.5 million. That’s $4 million less than the bond issue that ICCC voters narrowly rejected in December 2016. An insurance settlement following major storm damage in Fort Dodge this past May enabled the college to reduce the new bond asking.

That election received 58.7 percent approval, but as with other bond issue elections, 60 percent approval was required. The vote failed by 151 votes across the entire nine-county area.

The Iowa Central bond issue election on Feb. 6 hopes for approval to improve several buildings and to replace others, some of which date back to the college’s origin 50 years ago.

Technology changes and shifts in student services require updates to buildings and equipment, college administrators point out. Facilities on the Fort Dodge, Webster City and Storm Lake campuses would all benefit from the bond issue.

The ICCC bond would tax property throughout the college’s nine-county region 21 cents per thousand dollars of taxable valuation each year for 20 years.

For a home in the nine-county region with an assessed valuation of $100,000, the bond issue tax would be $12 per year. For a 500-acre farm with land assessed at $2,000 an acre (computed on the Iowa productivity formula), the bond issue tax would be about $100 a year.

GREENE COUNTY COMMUNITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

The Greene County School District bond issue election will take place April 3 for voters who live within that school district.

The purpose of the Greene County bond issue would be to acquire land on the south side of U.S. Highway 30 west of American Athletic and build on that site a new high school and a regional career education center, and to renovate the current high school building as the new home of Greene County Middle School.

The current middle school building would be repurposed, possibly as apartments and/or condominiums.

Earlier bond issue elections for the Greene County School District failed twice, once with 40 percent approval and the second time with 53 percent approval. Sixty percent was required for passage.

The upcoming April 3 vote is for a considerably different plan from the former one. The earlier plan would also have moved the current middle school classes to the current high school, but would have expanded that building with new high school wings. Under that plan, grades 6-12 would have been located at the expanded building.

The proposed regional career education center in the new plan, to be located adjacent to the new high school on Highway 30, adds an entirely different dimension. That idea was proposed to the Greene County school board by a group of local residents, and was endorsed by the board.

The board aims to keep the bond issue’s cost in the neighborhood of the earlier plan. The new plan’s estimated bond issue amount has not yet been established, but it’s likely to be around $20 million or $21 million, like the previous one. That bond would have taxed property in the Greene County district $2.70 per thousand of taxable valuation.

On those previous bond issues, the tax cost for a home in the Greene County district assessed at $100,000 would have been $137 a year for 20 years. A 500-acre farm with average land value would have paid $1,389 a year.

The school board has hired an architecture firm to sound out district residents’ thinking before actual blueprints are drawn.

It is the board’s intention to take the $4 million or $5 million that would have financed a new high school gym and locker facilities in the previous plan and use it instead to build the regional career academy building.

The new high school gym and locker facilities, as well as a new performing arts center, would instead be financed with private money, to be raised independently of the bond issue.

An announcement of sources for the private money is expected soon.

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