IVCCD Bond Referendum overview
Friday / October 25, 2019
The Iowa Valley Community College District (IVCCD) Board of Directors is taking a $32 million General Obligation Bond Referendum back to voters on Tuesday, Nov. 5. The bond issue first went to voters on April 2 and failed to achieve the required 60% approval by 60 votes out of 3,828 ballots cast.
The bond referendum will help the District do the following:
- Support dual credit programs that allow high school students to get job training and save money on future college credits. The average area high school student saved $1,689 last year in future college tuition by earning dual credits through ECC/MCC/IVG.
- Expand and improve STEM-related education programs.
- Improve and upgrade safety and security across all campuses to ensure that students, faculty and staff are protected.
- Benefit local business and industry by supplying a steady flow of qualified, trained workers into the workforce.
Facility and technology projects to be funded by the bond issue are outlined in the District’s Facilities Master Plan, drafted in 2017 by local architectural and engineering firm TSP, Inc. IVCCD operates Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, Marshalltown Community College, Iowa Valley Continuing Education, and Iowa Valley Grinnell. According to the Facilities Plan, there are more than 505,560 square feet of building space in Hardin, Marshall, Poweshiek and Tama Counties.
“The District was disappointed that the bond issue was not approved in April, but our needs have not changed … our facilities are still in need of significant repairs, our security systems need to be improved, and our technology infrastructures need to be updated,” says Dr. Kristie Fisher, IVCCD Chancellor. “Since classes started this fall we’ve had a fire in Thompson Hall (built in 1972) due to a faulty electrical outlet, and our IT department continues to spend a large amount of time supporting antiquated wireless, telephone, and network infrastructures that no longer meet the needs of today’s students. This bond issue is absolutely mission critical for us moving forward.”
IVCCD was required to wait at least six months per Iowa law before putting the bond issue back before voters. “We had dozens of people tell us in April that they didn’t vote because they thought the issue would pass easily,” says Dr. Fisher. “We had many discussions about when to try again, and we decided that the Nov. 5 election would allow us to capitalize on previous informational campaigns and community presentations. We’ve reached out to many more community groups, businesses, K-12 partners and individuals this fall, and we are doing everything we can think of to get the word out to voters in our district.”
With remaining projects in the IVCCD Facilities Master Plan totaling more than $32 million, the options for funding those projects are use of the Unrestricted Plant Fund, a 20 ¼ cent levy that brings in about $1 million per year, or a General Obligation Bond. Fisher says the District pays part of its utilities (over $1 million annually) from the Plant Fund, and that the Plant Fund will never be sufficient to address more than a few of the most urgent needs in any given year.
If approved by voters on Nov. 5, the District could sell the 10-year general obligation bonds in 2020 and begin work on the projects that same year.
IVCCD has lowered its property tax asking for each of the past nine years. The $32 million General Obligation Bond referendum being put before voters on Nov. 5 will be spread across four counties (Hardin, Marshall, Poweshiek and Tama), plus parts of six other counties. The tax rate averages about 70 cents per $1,000 taxable valuation annually for 10 years. For a residential homeowner with a $100,000 assessed valuation at the current rollback rate, the increase in property taxes averages $3.32 per month, or $39.84 per year, for 10 years. (Commercial and agricultural taxpayers can use the chart labeled “Tax Impact of $32 Million General Obligation Bond Referendum” on the IVCCD website to calculate their property tax costs.)
Additional information about the proposed IVCCD General Obligation Bond Issue can be found on the IVCCD website at https://www.iavalley.edu/about-the-district/bond-referendum.
“We will continue to get out into our communities and visit with the media, meet with community groups, and get information into the hands of our stakeholders through Nov. 5,” says Fisher. “In the meantime, we invite questions and encourage dialog. Our communities have a huge stake in our colleges, which contribute to the regional economy to the tune of more than $293 million annually. To remain viable and vibrant, we must compete successfully with the larger community colleges that surround us (Iowa Central, NIACC, Hawkeye, Kirkwood, Indian Hills and DMACC), and we must be able to attract students. We are determined to succeed at that!”