Letter to the Editor

Funding vote for school projects

Monday, December 3, 2012

Two Streams of Funding for Storm Lake School District:

SILO/SAFE funding. Through this funding the Storm Lake School District was receiving $1.6 million per year. It is thought that the district will go to $1.9 million with the current economy and if Iowa's economy continues to expand these funds could go to $2.5 million per year. The other part of this formula is, what are the projections for the enrollment for the District? If enrollment is expected to increase the School District will get more money, but if a decline in enrollment is projected, the District will most likely not see an increase in money regardless of the economy.

The $1.6 million is intended to be used for paying off the current elementary school in nine years. Once that is paid for the estimated accumulation in SILO/SAFE funding to the school district would be from $2.7 million to $8.1 million over a nine- year period. Are these proposed projects that vital that they cannot wait until ALL the SILO money is available after the elementary school is paid off?

The original intention of the new SILO funding was to make sure each pupil was treated equally across the state, and not by which county in which they lived. It was to also make sure that if no revenue purpose statement was passed that the revenue went towards property tax relief. It is up to each district to determine the intended uses of the SILO funds with the revenue purpose statement and within the scope of Iowa Code. Is it a good thing that the SILO money will be tied up in one project for over 15 years? Will expenditures that are paid for with the current PPEL funds still be used for ongoing needs for the next 15 years? What are the District's plans?

The second and third item that will be voted on is the PPEL (Property, Plant and Equipment Levy). The current levy is 17 cents/$1,000 of valuation. The levy, if passed, would increase to $1.34/$1,000 valuation for three years. The third vote, if passed, would extend the $1.34 for an additional 10 years to 2026. The District estimates this will generate $6.5 million.

Potentially, these three votes would generate approximately an extra $30 plus million for the Storm Lake School District for projects which haven't been thoroughly explained to the public. All in an effort to get cheaper interest rates now. Is there a rush to have projects finished without clear data when interest rates are not inclined to go up in the near future?