Some voters will find more than schoolboard candidates on the ballot when they go to the polls Tuesday to vote. Voters in some school districts will also vote on what’s called a "revenue purpose" statement that’s tied to a change in the way the penny school tax is collected. Iowa Association of School Boards finance director, Larry Sigel, says it’s a simple issue.
Sigel says the revenue purpose statement tells district residents how the school district plans to spend the penny sales tax from now until the tax expires in 2029. The Iowa Legislature approved the new statewide sales tax that will be distributed on a per-pupil basis to the state’s 362 districts. Sigel says prior to the legislative action, voters in all 99 counties had already approved a sales tax.
Sigel says the new law changes the vote on the penny tax from a county-by-county vote to a district-by-district vote. He says some schools have land in many different counties so the people who actually live in the district will vote on the purpose statement and the use of the money.
Sigel says the revenue purpose statement on the ballot may come as a surprise to some people. He says the statements can get long and confusing and might seem like a new tax, but he says it really is only a vote on how the money will be spent. Sigel says the change in the tax has a benefit for school districts.
Sigel says the change is "significant" for schools as it allows district to borrow against the sales tax money for 20 years instead of ten years. He says the change in borrowing power will allow the districts to finance most of their projects through the sales tax rather than property taxes, and should reduce the number of property tax votes. Sigel says you should check with your local school district if you have questions about the revenue purpose statement and how the money will be spent.