Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
On Monday night, the Mid-Prairie school board set a March 1 election to seek voter approval of issuing $26.3 million in general obligation bonds to help fund a $37.62 million project.
The decision came after Board Secretary Jeff Swartzentruber confirmed that a petition calling for the bond election gathered more than the minimum required 272 signatures.
“Actual signatures received were close to 500,” Swartzentruber said.
As part of the resolution setting the election, the district is requesting that voters approve raising the maximum debt service levy to $4.05 per $1,000 of valuation. The district’s current limit is $2.70, and the current debt levy is set at that maximum number.
“As part of the resolution, we’re going above the $2.70 current debt service limit,” Superintendent Mark Schneider said. “The board can set any debt service limit they want, but they can’t go over $4.05.”
While the district is seeking approval for a limit of $4.05, they are only asking for an actual increase of 60 cents to $3.30.
Schneider explained that raising the limit to $4.05 would mean that the district would not have to ask the voters for another increase in the limit in the future.
“You would still have to go back to the voters if you wanted to bond but not to raise the limit,” he said.
Board members discussed the pros and cons of asking for an increase to $4.05 rather than raising the limit by 60 cents.
“I think there are two thoughts,” board President Jeremy Pickard said. “If you set it at $4.05, you would never really have to come back. It doesn’t mean you have to use $4.05.
“The other thought is if you were to push it out there at $4.05, people will look at that and assume we’re just automatically going to go to $4.05 and vote no.”
Other board members expressed concerns as well.
“I think it would be great to go to $4.05, but I’m concerned that people are going to be freaked out that their taxes are going to go up,” board member Jake Snider said.
Board member Denise Chittick said that the district would have to make a strong effort to educate voters.
“There’s going to be an increase anyway,” Pickard added. “They’re probably either in on it or out on it, whether it’s $3.30 or $4.05.”
Ultimately, the board unanimously agreed to request that voters approve raising the debt service levy limit to $4.05.