PPEL income surtax passes

Friday, April 5, 2019

A new measure put to a vote by Alta-Aurelia’s School Board passed Tuesday, changing the structure of the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) revenue from all property tax to a mix of property tax and income tax.

The April 2 election passed the new income surtax overwhelmingly to the existing levy, with 90 percent of voters saying Yes. A total of 151 ballots were cast—just under 5 percent of over 3,000 registered voters in the district.

“It’s overwhelming, positive support,” said retiring Superintendent Lynn Evans. “The community support is about as strong as it can get.”

The old voter-approved (PPEL) tax, standing at a rate of 67 cents per $1,000 of assessed property, will expire next year, when the newly approved mix of income surtax and property tax-funded levy will take its place.

Voters will have the chance to give their two cents when they vote on the measure at the April 2 election, which the board filed for right under the deadline of February 15. The ballot measure requires a simple majority (50 percent) to be approved, and can be put to a vote again on the next available election date a few months after should it fail the first time.

The income surtax, whose rate will be determined next year, must be set at a minimum of 1 percent if enacted.

“The argument of income surtax is, if you make more money, you should be able to pay a little bit more,” Evans said.

The rate would show up on tax returns starting in 2020 and remain in effect for 10 years. The board has not yet determined an appropriate rate, but discussion suggested something at 10 percent or less.

An income surtax in the district does already exist for the Instructional Support Levy.

“It’s not increasing the tax (rate), just how we get the tax,” the superintendent told Board members in previous meetings.

PPEL funds are used for purchasing and improving grounds and buildings, constructing buildings or roads to buildings, purchasing or leasing technology and equipment, purchasing transportation equipment for students and other primarily “brick and mortar” related expenses.

The 10-year extension to the 67-cent levy will provide an estimated maximum of $2.5 million to use for project costs. That rate is half of the legal maximum rate for PPEL levies ($1.34).