FOREST CITY | Voters in the Forest City Community School District have approved an additional Physical Plant and Equipment Levy by just over 60 percent.

The levy, which was on the ballot for the Sept. 12 school election, only required a simple majority to pass. 

The vote was 610 yes and 405 no. 

The levy "will have a positive impact on the general fund," said Darwin Lehmann, school district superintendent.

Expenses such as technology and energy efficiency that have been coming out of the general fund now can be paid for through the Voted PPEL revenue, he said.

Passing the VPPEL was important for the financially stability of the district because of the historical lack of state aid for schools, according to Lehmann.

The district could have been facing a negative $650,000 in its unspent balance by the 2022 fiscal year without the VPPEL, according to Lehmann.

The district already had a PPEL in place for 33 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation on all taxable property, but it was approved by the school board, not the public.

School districts are required under Iowa law to get voter approval if they want an additional PPEL -- referred to as a VPPEL -- of up to $1.34 per $1,000 assessed valuation of taxable property blended with an income surtax.

This is the first time the school board has put the VPPEL levy on the ballot.

It will begin on July 1, 2018, and remain in effect for 10 years.

The school board will set the actual rates annually. They will vary slightly from year to year depending on the amount of aid received from the state, according to Lehmann.

Forest City school officials estimate the property tax portion of the VPPEL during the first year will be $1.06 per $1,000, while the income surtax will be two percent of the amount each individual has to pay in state income tax.

The estimated revenue generated for 2018-2019 will be $136,338 from the income surtax portion and $519,582 from the property tax portion. 

The expiration of the district's debt service levy means even with the VPPEL Forest City residents will not see an increase in the school portion of their property tax bill, according to Lehmann.

Those who lived in the former Woden-Crystal Lake district before the 2014 reorganization that made them part of the Forest City district will see an overall increase in school property taxes of 84 cents per $1,000.

The former WCL district residents would see an increase because the debt service levy was not passed along when the reorganization took place and the WCL had the VPPEL in place before reorganization, according to Lehmann.

The VPPEL money will be spent on continued technology and security enhancements, energy efficiency projects such as LED lighting, transportation fleet rotation, playground equipment, building furnishings, and the remodeling of classrooms and hallways.