Creston Community School District held the first of two public hearings over the upcoming physical plant and equipment levy vote Wednesday night at the Creston High School auditorium.
CCSD Superintendent Deron Stender provided a presentation detailing what a voter-approved PPEL is and the importance of the funds for the district.
“We are very proud of the facilities that we have and the services that we provide our students and staff,” said Stender. “We hope that our community is also prideful of that and wants to continue be able to maintain our facilities and be able to provide the safety, security and technology that are needed in order to operate a school district.”
What is a PPEL?
A physical plant and equipment levy is a voter-approved levy specifically designated by the state for school district expenditures for building repairs, renovations, maintaining a fleet of buses and vehicles, providing technology, safety and equipment to maintain a learning environment. The money is calculated by property tax, with a certain amount being additionally charged to property owners per $1,000 of property tax.
A voter-approved PPEL requires a new vote every ten years in order to stay in effect. The current PPEL for the Creston district was voted on in 2011, with the rate being set at $.67 per $1,000 property tax. With this rate, an estimated $315,000 is generated each year for ten years, averaging $218.65 per pupil. Stender said the district has no intentions of increasing the rate and that the PPEL will not raise taxes.
“If the evaluation of your property goes up, your taxes will go up,” said Stender. “That’s not a result of the school district. If you have more value in your property, your taxes will go up, but you will still be paying the same $.67 per $1,000.”
During the 2019-2020 school year, 82% of Iowa school districts had a voter-approved PPEL in place. Out of the schools in the area, Creston’s district has one of the lowest rates.
Importance of PPEL
Without PPEL funds, Stender said student programs would be heavily affected. Reductions and eliminations of certain activities would inevitably follow, as essential physical plant and equipment needs would then be paid directly out of the district’s general fund.
“Imagine what would happen if you lost your job today,” said Stender. “You’re unemployed for a year. You’re going to have to make some difficult decisions on how you’re going to handle the budget. What circumstances are going to change in your life and what are you going to prioritize? Those are the same things we as a school district are going to have to do if the PPEL fails.”
The funds generated from a PPEL have strict limitations as far as usage goes. None of the money can be used as any form of compensation.
The upcoming vote
The current PPEL authorization is set to expire June 30, 2021. Despite this date being over a year away, Stender said the district wanted to address the matter early as to be certain the funds are in place.
“I’ve been asked as to why we are pursuing this so early,” said Stender. “This is what I call risk management. We are looking at every opportunity we can to be able to pass our PPEL.”
There will be one more public meeting before the vote 6 to 7 p.m. Feb. 26 in the Creston high school auditorium. Any voters with questions or concerns are urged to attend.
The PPEL vote takes place 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 3. Any eligible voter who lives within the Creston Community School District is encouraged to participate, not just citizens within city limits. To locate your polling place, go to https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/voterreg/pollingplace/search.aspx. Absentee ballots can be filled out at the Union County Courthouse during their regular hours. Absentee ballots can also be requested online at https://sos.iowa.gov/elections/pdf/absenteeballotapp.pdf or by contacting the Union County Courthouse at 641-782-1704.
For easier access to the above websites, view this article online at crestonnews.com and click on the links.