Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Sep 20, 2017

MP Schools seeks approval on revenue purpose statement

Aug 23, 2017

By Karyn Spory, Mt. Pleasant News

 

Voters in the Mt. Pleasant Community School District will have more than just school board candidates on their ballot Sept. 12. The district is asking voters to approve a revenue purpose statement for money received from the states’s one-cent sales tax for school infrastructure, more commonly referred to as SAVE funds or the penny sales tax.

Mt. Pleasant Superintendent John Henriksen explained the revenue purpose statement is not for a new tax or asking for any additional money from voters, it’s simply asking voters to extend the same language that is currently in place.

“What we’re asking our community to do is approve our language so we can continue to use the state penny for school infrastructure as a first priority. It does not affect anyone’s taxes, it’s a statewide penny sales tax,” said Henriksen. “You have to have revenue purpose statement language on how you’re going to use the penny.”

The penny sales tax is collected across the state and then distributed to each school district. Depending on how a school district’s revenue purpose statement reads, Henriksen said, the funds received from the state are used to reduce property tax levies, which Mt. Pleasant has done. Henriksen said approximately $750,000 of the money received from the penny sales tax each year has been used to pay off the district’s revenue bond for the Mt. Pleasant Middle School expansion and renovation. Those bonds will be paid off in 2021, according to Henriksen.

However, Mt. Pleasant would like to use the roughly $1.8 million first toward infrastructure; something the district has been doing since 2006.

Projects funded by the penny sales tax include the current $2.5 million dollar project to air-condition the elementary schools. “We’re paying for all of that with penny sales tax dollars,” said Henriksen.

“If you went out to Mapleleaf for ‘Meet the Players Night’, you might have noticed new railings up and down the walkways. All paid for with penny sales tax dollars,” he added.

The penny sales tax also was used for new carpeting in the High School classrooms and office and Van Allen library, as well as redoing the entrance to the high school.

Henriksen emphasized that when the district does projects like installing new carpeting or remittigating asbestos (part of the elementary air conditioning project) they try to hire local contractors and businesses.

The language on the revenue purpose statement would also allow the district to continue using the funds first for infrastructure for the life of the state penny sales tax. The one-cent sales tax is set to expire in 2029. The Iowa State Legislature has discussed extending the tax, but no decisions were made during this year’s legislative session.

“I don’t know what school districts, especially smaller districts, would do if we didn’t have the penny (sales tax),” said Henriksen. “I think school districts and (school) boards have done a great job of using the penny sales tax to serve students and to give them facilities their communities can be proud of and our kids deserve to receive an education in.”

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