Superintendent seeks support for 2nd PERL levy vote

Friday, October 8, 2021

Alta-Aurelia Superintendent William Walters is looking to clear up any misconceptions ahead of a second attempt to pass a PERL (Public Education and Recreation Levy) this November.

Walters met with the Alta City Council this week to ask for its support, and plans to speak to other groups in the communities.

It means a great deal to both of our communities, he said, telling the council that the measure had failed by only four votes in March.

The superintendent believes that there was a misunderstanding among some that the levy was to be used to build the new playground at the elementary school in Alta. That development has taken place without the levy, to the tune of $350,000.

The levy could help with any future playground projects, but has a much broader appeal, Walter says. The funds can be used for recreational facilities and programs, but also Community Education, a program that Walters thinks would benefit the communities. He foresees a survey on what type of classes and program offerings residents would want, with them to be provided free. Another possibility would be to offset some of the cost for before and after school programs for the AA district. It could help with providing new equipment for the fitness centers that are provided in both communities through the school system, he said, noting that the last two pieces of equipment replaced cost $6,500 or more. The centers currently serve 150 members from the communities and 200 students.

If passed, the levy would remain in place permanently, unless repealed by voters. However, Walters said it would be used judiciously - in a year with an awful economy or local farm situation, the board would choose not to levy it, he said.

Also, Walters said the district is hoping to make the levy revenue-neutral by dropping an existing management levy by the same 13.5 cent/thousand amount. Were not trying to tax everyone out of the country, he said.

According to Walters, PERL is the last available levy the district is eligible for. I hope you guys will support it, he told the council members.

Youre not asking for a lot from our communities, for the benefits it would provide, Mayor Kevin Walsh replied.

Council member Pam Henderson agreed that the matter was confusing the first time around.

Williams said the schools plan to host a community meeting on the issue before the vote to allow any questions to be asked.

He stressed that funds would be available for efforts in both of the communities, citing a good relationship that can be seen in everything from baseball/softball programs to the schools/public shared library.

Twenty-two school districts in Iowa have the levy in place, according to the Iowa Association of School Boards.