What is a Physical Plan and Equipment Levy?

A top priority for our Board of Directors is to continue our renovation efforts at all of our District facilities.  For quite some time, discussions have centered around two specific needs of our renovation project.  The first concern is the immediate need to increase security of our entryways at Earlville, Johnston andDelhi Elementary Schools.  This need includes creating a vestibule with a double locking entry system into our elementary facilities.  This also includes purchasing up-to-date surveillance cameras for visitor screening as well as building perimeter and interior surveillance.  The second priority for our Board is to continue to build upon our technology plan to update technology access for all of our students throughout the district. In order to fund these priorities, one of the avenues that our Directors have been discussing has been creating a consistent revenue stream through a voter approved Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL). 

After months of discussion, at the November 26th meeting the Board of Directors passed a resolution calling for a voter-approved PPEL of 33¢ to be used to update Maquoketa Valley elementary school building entrances for security purposes and annually updating district technology. This allows our District to bring the question of updating our elementary entrances and district technology for our children to our voters on February 5, 2019. 

With this resolution, I realize that this may raise a number of questions regarding this vote scheduled for February 5th.  Hopefully this article will provide some of those answers.

What is the PPEL? 

The Physical Plant and Equipment Levy may annually be certified by our Board of Directors in an amount of 33¢ per thousand dollars of assessed valuation.  District voters may authorize an additional PPEL know as a voted PPEL for a period not to exceed 10-years.  The voted PPEL cannot exceed $1.34.  At this time Maquoketa Valley does not have a voted PPEL, the District only has an approved regular PPEL of 33¢.  This 33¢ generates approximately $115,000 in revenue each year for our district. An additional 33¢, which is well below the $1.34 increase allowed by law is being proposed to provide the revenue needed to secure our elementary entrances and ensure that our student technology needs are being met at all levels. Even with an additional 33¢, our overall school levy rate will remain the lowest in our area. 

Why is an additional 33¢ levy important now?

First and foremost, with the ever increasing threat of violence in our schools, it is imperative that we do what we can to ensure the safety of all of our children. This starts with building security.  With the recent high school remodel we were able to create a vestibule entrance with a locked double door entrance.  We also purchased a surveillance system so building secretaries are able to monitor the entrance of the facility.   Entrance remodeling now needs to be completed at Earlville Elementary, Johnston Elementary and Delhi Elementary and Middle School.  The additional 33¢ will specifically be used for this purpose.

Our regular PPEL of 33¢ currently generates approximately $115,000.  With the rising costs of technology, software, technology licenses, technology repair, technology service contracts, roof replacement and maintenance, transportation maintenance, windows, tuckpointing needs, outdoor facility and grounds maintenance, phones, etc., the regular PPEL does not cover our yearly costs to ensure  that our technology needs and our facilities are maintained to our expectations.  If the voters are gracious enough to approve the additional 33¢ PPEL, this additional revenue will strictly be used to 1st remodel the entrances to all of our elementary facilities, which will be in the neighborhood of $115,000 and 2nd, to ensure that we are able to purchase technology to meet the learning needs of our children.  We are currently projecting that for the next 10 years our technology costs will be at a minimum of $130,000 per year.  This includes computers, coding apparatus, software applications, servers, projectors, switches, document cameras, computer speakers, yearly software upgrades, repair, technology service and maintenance contracts. This is why the question on the February 5th ballot specifically delineates what these dollars will be used for. If the voter PPEL is approved, the School District Business Manager will ensure revenue from this voter approved PPEL is only used and coded for these specific purposes.

Will this raise my taxes?

The answer to this question at this time is NO.  At this time we do not anticipate an increase in our school property taxes.  Currently our overall school levy rate is $10.57, which is the lowest in the area.  Western Dubuque’s levy rate is $11.53 and West Delaware Community School District is $11.94.  Monticello’s rate is $12.29 and will be increasing with their recent bond election. Ed-Co has a rate of $14.09 and North Linn’s is $15.54.   Our Board of Director’s have been diligent in their responsibility in managing our district budget and living within our means. The levy rate is a direct reflection of this.  That is why the Directors are only requesting an additional 33¢, not the additional $1.34 that is allowed by law.  The Directors are only asking for an increase to meet our children’s needs.

What can the PPEL dollars be used for?

By State statute, PPEL dollars can only be used for:

  • The purchase and improvement of grounds
  • The construction of buildings
  • The purchase, lease or lease-purchase of equipment or technology
  • Payment of debts for the erection or construction of buildings
  • Acquisition of library facilities
  • Repairing, remodeling, reconstructing, improving, or expanding the buildings and additions to existing schoolhouses
  • Expenditures for energy conservations
  • Rental of facilities
  • Purchase of transportation equipment for transporting students
  • Purchase or lease-purchase of school buildings
  • Equipment purchases for recreational purposes
  • Payment to a municipality or other entity and
  • Demolition, clean-up and other costs incurred within 2-years of a natural disaster.

What has Maquoketa Valley used PPEL revenue for?

Over the past 14 years Maquoketa Valley has used PPEL revenue for the following purposes:

  • Bus and van repairs
  • Bus security camera
  • Hallway security cameras at the high and middle school
  • Purchase and maintenance of boilers
  • Roof replacement and repairs
  • Building window replacement
  • Indoor and outdoor door repair
  • Door closures and doorlocks
  • Fireproof doors and windows
  • Facility Updating (painting, ceiling tile, water fountains, air conditioning)
  • Copier purchase
  • Security fencing
  • Classroom shop welders
  • Purchase and maintenance of classroom air conditioners
  • Innovative TechnologySolutions services
  • Computer repair
  • Microsoft licenses
  • Internet connect fees
  • Phones
  • Fire control panel
  • Asbestos removal
  • Scoreboard maintenance
  • Upgrading outdoor athletic facilities
  • Sidewalk replacement
  • Facility scrubbers
  • Facility tuck pointing
  • Training room ice machine
  • Bathroom stalls and fixtures
  • Football press box
  • Wrestling mat
  • Greenhouse electrical
  • HS gym floor
  • LED lighting
  • Football concession stand landing
  • High School track and
  • Classroom and library equipment

Are there PPEL Prohibitions?

By State statute, there are prohibitions to PPEL uses.  Those include:

  • Employee salaries, benefits or travel expenses
  • Materials and supplies
  • Printing costs or media services
  • Heating or cooling costs
  • Bus fuels and
  • Any other purpose not expressly authorized in Iowa Code Section 298.3

When will the PPEL vote be held?

The vote is scheduled for February 5, 2018.  I would encourage you to get out and vote on February 5th, or contact the Delaware CountyAuditor’s office at 563-927-4701 to vote by absentee ballot. It is an important decision for our district, our facilities and our kids  If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact Doug Tuetken or Erika Imler at 563-922-9422.