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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
 
When is the election?

What is on the Ballot?

What percentage of the voters must approve the referendum for it to pass?

Will there be satellite voting?

Can I vote by absentee ballot? 

Where do I vote?

Where will the proposed elementary buildings be built?

When would the buildings be ready? 

How were the cost projections figured? 

Who recommended this plan?  How were the needs identified?

What will this cost in property taxes?

If passed, when would my property taxes increase?

Can Linn-Mar afford to operate, staff and insure these new facilities?

If this area is growing, does the growing tax base provide more funding for schools and mean property taxes will go down?

Isn’t there state money, lottery money or some other way to finance facility needs?

How can Linn-Mar afford a $27.5 million referendum?

How many years will it take to pay off the bond issue?

What is the district’s current tax rate?  Are there other bond-related taxes still on the books?  Does the district have an income surtax?  Is the PPEL (Physical Plant & Equipment Levy) at the max?

How much will the proposed bond issue (or levy) raise the tax rate?

At what rate is the Linn-Mar residential area growing?

What is the District doing now to accommodate growth?

How will the education for students improve if we do this?  How will this help all our schools?

When is the election?

Tuesday, January 24
Polls will be open
7 a.m. – 8 p.m.

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What is on the Ballot?

Official ballot language reads:

Shall the Board of Directors of the Linn-Mar Community School District in the County of Linn, State of Iowa, be authorized to contract indebtedness and issue General Obligation Bonds in an amount not to exceed $27,500,000 to provide funds to build, equip and furnish two PreK-5 elementary buildings, including site preparation; and renovate, improve, remodel, repair, furnish, equip and construct an addition to the High School; and renovate, improve, remodel, repair Novak Elementary; and renovate, improve, remodel Oak Ridge as a middle school?

More specifically, the $27.5 million bond referendum will be used for:

  • 2 Elementary Schools to accommodate at least 500 students each with alternate kindergarten classrooms and areas to accommodate preschool programming

 
  • The first elementary projected to open in the fall of 2007 will be built on 50th Street, on the east side of the district.  It will also include a District production kitchen and storage.

  • The second elementary will be built on the Oak Ridge property; its projected opening date based on elementary enrollment growth

  • Renovating and updating the High School to accommodate 1800 students for quality academics; adequate common spaces and circulation; unified spaces for student support and administrative functions; modernized electrical and HVAC systems

 
  • Two additional science classrooms with lecture and lab space

  • 7 high tech classrooms converted from 3 music areas

  • Redesigned math classroom area

  • Music classroom addition with storage

  • Additional dining area serving 450 students from a renovated gym C area beside the Library/Media Center

  • Expanded hallway/commons area at the ‘four corners’ hallway area

  • Hallway passage through the 9th Grade English/social studies classroom block area

  • Centralized guidance and at-risk counseling center

  • Centralized health/nurse support

  • Revamped heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems

  • Updated electrical systems

  • Unified art classroom area

  • Unified industrial tech classroom area

  • Consolidated administrative offices

  • A renovated, updated Novak Elementary School to include

 
  • Replacement windows

  • Modernized electrical system

  • Upgraded plumbing and fixtures

  • Revamping of current heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems

  • Conversion of Oak Ridge from a PreK-8 building to a middle school to coincide with the opening of the elementary school on the Oak Ridge site

 
  • Replacement of elementary sized fixtures and casework

  • Remodel preschool area into middle school classrooms

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What percentage of the voters must approve the referendum for it to pass?

Sixty percent of those voting must approve the referendum in order for it to pass.

 

Will there be satellite voting?

The Linn County Auditor's Office will conduct satellite voting in the Linn-Mar district on the following dates: 


January 12
Noon - 8 p.m.
High School Upper Commons


January 17

Noon - 8 p.m.
High School
Classroom L33 (near the gymnasium)


All registered voters in the
Linn-Mar Community School District
can vote at the High School on these dates, regardless of their assigned precinct. On January 24, however, voters must vote at their assigned precinct.

 

Can I vote by absentee ballot?

Absentee ballots are now available.  To obtain an absentee ballot, patrons may contact the Linn County Auditor’s Office in writing by sending an official absentee ballot request form, which may be obtained at http://www.sos.state.ia.us/PDFS/AbsenteeBallotApp2002.pdf, or in person at the election office, 930 First St., SW.  The last day to request a ballot by mail will be Friday, January 20, 2006.  The ballot will be considered valid and on-time as long it is postmarked by Monday, January 23, and received by Monday, January 30.

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Where do I vote?

There are 3 regular polling locations:

MARION CHRISTIAN CHURCH
      1050 MCGOWAN BLVD., MARION
     
(all voters inside the city limits of Marion in Linn-Mar District)

 

            NOELRIDGE CHRISTIAN CHURCH
            7111 C AVE. NE, CEDAR RAPIDS
           
(all voters inside the city limits of Cedar Rapids, and Robins in Linn-Mar District)

 

            KNIGHTS OF COLUMBUS HALL
            5650 KACENA AVE., MARION
           
(all voters outside the city limits in Linn-Mar District)

 

Where will the proposed elementary buildings be built?

ü     The first on property the district owns on 50th Street in Marion.

ü     The second elementary school will be built on the Oak Ridge site off Alburnett Road.

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When would the buildings be ready?

If approved, the first elementary would be slated for opening in the Fall of 2007 and the second elementary would be opened in the Fall of 2009 unless enrollment growth necessitated an earlier opening date.  The High School project would be completed  by the end of the summer in 2008; and Novak renovations would be completed over the next two years.  Oak Ridge would be converted to a middle school when the second elementary school is opened.

 

How were the cost projections figured?

The cost projections for each project were determined through consultation with architects, comparison of current costs of similar projects, and through facility analysis.

  • High School Project – architectural and engineering analysis based on needs and conditions of the current facility and mechanical systems.
  • Elementary School Projects – architectural estimates based on square footage and current construction costs with an annual escalator percentage.  Though both buildings will be similar, some variations with the second building should equalize the cost even if opened two years following the first elementary.
  • Novak Elementary Renovation – engineering firm 2005 analysis of renovation and code needs.
  • Conversion of Oak Ridge to a Middle School – architect’s analysis of needed changes.

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Who recommended this plan?  How were the needs identified?

Elements of the plan were recommended as long as 10 years ago. Over the past 8 years, architects and engineering firms have been working with the district to identify needs and develop plans.  The impetus for the construction and renovation, though, comes primarily from the growth in enrollment that Linn-Mar has experienced over the past 10 years.  In 1995-96 school year, Linn-Mar’s certified enrollment was 4097; by 2000-01 school year it had increased to 4998.  Today the certified enrollment is 5781.  In the past 10 years, the increase in the number of students is 1684.   Projecting enrollment increase for the next three years puts total enrollment at 6015 to start the 2007-08 school year.  There are considerably more kindergarten aged children entering the district than there are 12th grade graduating seniors.  In the past four years this difference has accounted for 601 students.

In the spring of 2004 a group of 36 community members and staff met as a Strategic Planning Committee to map out goals that would keep the focus on quality learning.  Four goal areas included facilities and accommodating growth:  upgrading and renovating current facilities and buildings; building capacity to accommodate growth in enrollment, addressing the modernizations needs at Novak, and upgrade, relocate, and develop facilities that would be low maintenance while still providing a wide variety of extracurricular experiences for our students. 

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What will this cost in property taxes?

Is the market value of my home the same as the assessed value? 

On what would the increase in my property taxes for this referendum be based?

The market value of a home is based on what it would sell for in the current real estate market, which is a supply-demand market.  Assessed value, however, is not the same as market value.  The assessed value of your home is determined by the county assessor and is calculated on several factors, including comparison of like properties, location and condition.

The calculation of your property taxes is based off a completely different value, the taxable value.  For homeowners in the state of Iowa, the taxable value is currently lower than the assessed value.  This difference is due to what is call a roll back factor.  The roll back factor is a percentage determined by the state to apply to the assessed value of all property to come up the taxable value.   For the next tax year, the roll back factor for residential property is 45.9960% down from the current year of 47.9642%.  That means all residential property will only be taxed on 45.9960% of the assessed value of the property, which is the taxable value of the property.  This referendum would raise the District’s Debt Service Levy from $2.976 per $1,000 of assessed valuation of property to $3.86 per $1,000 of assessed valuation, an increase of approximately 88.45 cents.  See the table below to see the impact of this increase in taxes this referendum would have on various values of property assuming no increase in assessed value of property from one year to the next.

 

School Tax Year

Assessed Value

Roll Back Factor

Taxable Value

Debt Levy

Total dollar Amt.

2006

100,000

47.9642%

47,964

$2.976

$142.74

2007

100,000

45.9960%

45,996

$3.86

$177.57

Total increase in dollars taxed

$ 34.83

2006

150,000

47.9642%

71,946

$2.976

$214.11

2007

150,000

45.9960%

68,994

$3.86

$266.35

Total increase in dollars taxed

$ 52.24

2006

200,000

47.9642%

95,926

$2.976

$285.48

2007

200,000

45.9960%

91,992

$3.86

$355.14

Total increase in dollars taxed

$ 69.65

If you want to know what the taxable value of your property is, you can:

  1)  contact the county auditor or visit their website at www.linn.iowaassessors.com (if you live in the     county or the city of Marion)
  2)  contact the Cedar Rapids auditor or visit their website at http://www.cedar-rapids-assessor.org/pmc/ (if you live in Cedar Rapids)

  Remember that

  •  the market value is what the home sells for in the real estate market,

  • the assessed value is determined by the county assessor, and

  • the taxable value is what is used to actually calculate your taxes.

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If passed, when would my property taxes increase?

The increase of $52.24 a year, or $1.01 a week, would be collected beginning with the fiscal year ending June 30, 2007.

 

Can Linn-Mar afford to operate, staff and insure these new facilities?

Linn-Mar’s financial advisors and administrators have reviewed the operating budget impact of opening new schools, and with careful management of financial resources, the District will be able to manage the additional property.  The renovations to the High School and Novak Elementary will increase operational efficiencies and eliminate some ongoing maintenance costs, as well.

 

If this area is growing, does the growing tax base provide more funding for schools and mean property taxes will go down?

Growth in the tax base spreads the tax over more people and reduces the amount levied on each individual property owner.  It does not increase the revenue per student received by the school district from the state.  An increase in the tax base does, however, increase the amount received in the PPEL funds.  The anticipated increase in assessed valuation may cause the debt service levy to decrease from $3.86 if this referendum is approved by the voters.  However, this growth in property tax base cannot be guaranteed.

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Isn’t there state money, lottery money or some other way to finance facility needs?

There are only three options currently available to school districts for financing construction or repair.  Districts can ask voters to approve:

1)      an increase in the local sales tax (up to one cent).

2)      a Physical Plant and Equipment Property Tax Levy (PPEL) which increases local property taxes.

3)      a bond issue, which is only payable from a levy upon property taxes  (increases local property tax).

·         The Iowa legislature has always considered infrastructure to be a local responsibility.  The one cent sales tax for schools requires a vote of all Linn County voters.  To date, the voters of Linn County have not approved a one cent sales tax for schools, which means  that funding option is not available to Linn County schools, which includes Linn-Mar.

·         The District currently uses the PPEL revenue for repair and maintenance of its buildings and for purchase of school buses.

·         A bond issue permits school districts to sell bonds to finance construction.  The bonds are sold when needed to cover expenses with a payback over a period of years, usually 20 years.  The size of projects required by Linn-Mar to meet the growth in student enrollment cannot be covered by PPEL funds.  PPEL funding will be used to continue funding the maintenance needs of the District’s other schools and buildings.

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How can Linn-Mar afford a $27.5 million referendum?

Affordability has been defined by the State of Iowa.  Schools can only levy $2.70 per 1,000 of assessed valuation for the repayment of debt.   By the vote of the people, the $2.70 limit can be raised to $4.05.  The Linn-Mar voters passed the $4.05 limit in conjunction with the $25 million bond issue passed in 1997.  To further address the affordability factor, the state has limited the amount of debt schools can have to 5% of the actual value of the taxable property within the school district; for Linn-Mar the 5% maximum debt amount is $93,428,850.  The passage of the $27.5 million referendum would raise the district's levy to approximately $3.86 per 1,000 for the 2006-2007 school year and increase the overall debt of the district to approximately $62 million.  With the passage of the referendum, the district's levy of $3.86 will still be $ .19 below the $4.05 limit and roughly $31 million below the 5% maximum debt amount.

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How many years will it take to pay off the bond issue?  (How many years would the levy be collected?)

If passed, the plan is to sell the bonds over a three year period:  $10 million the first year, $10 million the second year, and $7.5 million the third year.  The projects would be paid for from the bond sales as the bills come due.  The length of time for payback from each bond sale is 20 years.

What is the district’s current tax rate?  Are there other bond-related taxes still on the books?  Does the district have an income surtax?  Is the PPEL (Physical Plant & Equipment Levy) at the max?

The District’s current tax rate is $17.9931.  The bond-related taxes still on the books are covered by the debt service levy, which is currently $2.97601.  Recently the District refinanced two outstanding issues of bond debt to obtain more favorable interest rates which will save the District $818,000 over the remaining length of current debt; which leaves approximately $33.3 million in outstanding debt that will be paid off in the fiscal year ending 2021.

The District does not have an income surtax.

The District currently has the board-approved PPEL levy of 33 cents and a voter-approved levy of 67 cents, which was passed in September 2004 with a vote of 517 in favor and 100 against.  By law, the District could ask the tax payers to approve an additional 67 cents.  

How much will the proposed bond issue (or levy) raise the tax rate?

The proposed bond issue for $27.5 million will raise the debt service levy from $2.97601 to $3.86, an increase of approximately 88 cents.

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At what rate is the Linn-Mar residential area growing?

Developers are building in neighborhoods at each of the schools in the Linn-Mar district, which includes portions of Marion, Cedar Rapids, and Robins.  New housing starts mean more children, thus generating a need for additional classrooms. 

In 2005, the City of Cedar Rapids issued building permits for 348 single family dwellings; the City of Marion issued 312 permits.  The majority of the permits issued by the City of Marion are in the Linn-Mar District, while 25 of the Cedar Rapids-issued permits are in Linn-Mar.

What is the District doing now to accommodate growth?

Currently, several schools have run out of classroom space and have converted other areas of their building to classrooms.  For example, Wilkins’ computer lab is now a kindergarten classroom; Westfield has remodeled two learning area spaces into classrooms for alternate kindergarten and fifth grade.  Oak Ridge has partitioned off part of their library for TAG and reading classes and is using an art room as a classroom.  Indian Creek, Bowman Woods, and Novak have larger class sizes in many grade levels because of neighborhood housing growth.

An increase in High School enrollment over the past four years has also required adjustments. Administrators have employed a number of solutions to resolve overcrowding so all students can complete their required courses.

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How will the education for students improve if we do this?  How will this help all our schools?

High School renovation and addition:  This project will provide more classrooms for the additional high school students, better circulation for students in the hallways, another cafeteria area for serving lunches for the increased number of students, more stable air quality across the building, and centralized services locations for students such as guidance and at-risk counseling and nurse support.

Two Elementary Schools:  With the construction of 2 elementary schools, the first being on 50th Street in Marion and the second on Oak Ridge property, elementary attendance boundaries will be redrawn to redistribute students among the schools.  This will result in more manageable class sizes and the return of areas that are being used as classrooms to their intended original use.  An example would be Wilkins computer room which is now currently a kindergarten classroom. 

Renovation of Novak Elementary:  Novak, the District’s first building, was constructed in 1948.  The windows need to be replaced; the electrical service modernized; plumbing and fixtures need to be upgraded; and the current heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems need to be revamped.  These upgrades would improve the quality of the learning environment at Novak and keep this historical district building from deteriorating thus making it safe and useable as a school or for other purposes in the future.

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What if the referendum does not pass?

First, it is the intention of the Board to bring the referendum to a vote at the earliest possible date it can, should the question not receive the required number of votes for passage.  According to code, the next election can be held as soon as six months after the initial vote.

All of the needs met by the proposed projects are upgrades to facilities to provide continued quality education to the additional students who are moving into the district.  At the elementary level, class sizes would continue to increase and more spaces in the elementary buildings would be repurposed for class space.  The conversion of Oak Ridge to a middle school would be delayed.  More middle school students would be assigned to Excelsior to ease class size and crowding at Oak Ridge.  The enrollment at the High School is anticipated to reach 1800 students by the fall of 2008.  Graduation requirements have already been increased for Linn-Mar High School Students so there would be limitations on availability of science classrooms.  All programs are showing increased student enrollment so the class sizes become larger; elective courses may be offered in alternating years; or the number of elective classes offered may be limited, creating waiting lists.  Performing groups, as they grow larger, may not be divided; thus limiting opportunities for students.  The math classroom area’s climate control problems would not be addressed.  Further, because the increased number of students means more guidance counselors, the guidance counselor offices would be placed wherever there was available space.  Finally, because of the crowded conditions, incidents involving disciplinary action may increase. 

The PPEL dollars available for building maintenance for all schools would have to be diverted to space conversion. Mechanical upgrades, renovations and preventative maintenance projects for the High School, Novak, Indian Creek, Bowman Woods, and Wilkins that are needed because of their age, will be delayed.  Roof repair and replacement would also be delayed.  The District’s newer buildings, Excelsior, Westfield, and Oak Ridge would receive minimal attention because services would be provided based on most critical need rather than general upkeep.

Storage and warehousing problems would escalate for Food Service, increasing the present costs of storing food off site.  Transportation would likely be affected because of the diminished availability of dollars to purchase new buses to replace older buses. 
 


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This Page Last Modified 8/31/2012 2:45:26 PM