Voters in seven eastern Iowa counties will be faced with the option to renew a 6-cent instructional equipment levy for Kirkwood Community College during the regular school election on Sept. 10.
The levy has been in place for 30 years and Kirkwood Chief Financial Officer, Jim Choate, said it generates $1.2 million per year to purchase equipment, computers and other technology items used by students in the classroom.
The tax levy is 6 cents per $1,000 in assessed valuation, which means it costs the owner of a $100,000 home about $3 per year.
In an August Gazette op-ed, Kirkwood President Mick Starcevich stressed the tax levy’s importance.
“Without our community’s support, we couldn’t offer the breadth and depth of hands-on, industry-standard labs that we do,” he said. “The highly technical programs with significant workforce demand are also the expensive programs to equip.”
Choate and Starcevich both listed a wide variety of equipment the levy has provided funds for in the past, some examples include:
Although it’s too soon to say what technology officials would like to purchase in the future, Choate said if the tax levy is renewed it’s likely some of the funds generated would go to purchasing computers and equipment to be housed in Kirkwood’s new Johnson County Regional Center. The center is expected to be completed by fall 2015.
Kirkwood has facilities in seven Iowa counties including Linn, Benton, Jones, Cedar, Iowa, Washington and Johnson. In fall 2013, 15,000 students were enrolled throughout the school’s system.
And as state and federal funding has grown tighter over the years, the funds generated from the levy have become increasingly vital, Choate said.
“The funding from the state over the last 30 years has decreased for all higher education institutions,” he said. “The need and the use for these dollars is even more critical to help ensure we’re providing new current, modern equipment for students and for the different programs that we offer.”
Starcevich said in his op-ed that federal and state support makes up about one third of the college system’s funding and local funding through bonds and the college’s two tax levies – for instructional equipment and facilities — make up 10 percent.
The current levy runs through June 30, 2015 and Choate said since there will be no 2014 school election, Kirkwood board of trustees placed it on the ballot for renewal through 2025. It needs a simple majority to pass.