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Iowa Lakes Seeks Tax Levy Renewal

By Staff | Jul 20, 2010

It won’t be long until the school bell is ringing and classes are back in session. Just as area students are planning their return to the classroom, Iowa Lakes Community College is working on informing Palo Alto County residents of an upcoming ballot issue that will be considered during a special election on Sept. 14.

The college’s Board of Trustees is asking voters to renew their approval of the Plant Fund Property Tax Levy. The current levy will expire in 2012, and has been in place since 1970. This is a continuation of the current levy, and not an increase.

The levy generates approximately $909,000 each year. The amount is based on assessed valuation at 20 1/4 cents per $1,000. For example, a homeowner whose home is assessed at $100,000, and after the property tax rollback of 53.096-percent, pays $9.50 per year, or 83-cents per month.

In the past, Plant Fund Levy proceeds have been used for the Wind Technology Building and Program, Technology Education Center, Construction Technology Building, Criminal Justice Building, Addition to Algona Campus, Marine, Small Engine & Welding Programs Improvements, Fire Training Facility & Program, Maintenance of Buildings College-Wide, Student Services Addition, Baseball Field Construction, Heating and Air Conditioning, and Science Labs.

The college’s Board of Trustees is planning on using the renewed Plant Fund Levy for technology (telepresence for all five campuses, $2,000,000), energy efficient heating and air conditioning throughout the college ($2,500,000), classroom updates and expansion (eight science labs and three computer labs, $2,300,000), modernization of the Emmetsburg Campus ($525,000), and upgrade of the auditoriums at Emmetsburg and Estherville ($800,000).

Under Iowa Law, community college boards are allowed to ask voters to approve a property tax levy that may be used for the construction and maintenance of buildings, renovations (which includes instructional equipment), and library acquisitions. The election requires a simple majority to pass (50-percent plus one).

The story of Iowa Lakes in Palo Alto began with the formation of the junior college in 1930. When the Community College System was established in 1968, Iowa Lakes and the school district merged their junior colleges and construction of a new campus began. The expansion of college facilities has progressed each decade.