MASON CITY – A group of concerned Mason City taxpayers has gone to Cerro Gordo County Auditor Ken Kline and had a petition drawn up to attempt to force a vote by Mason City voters on approval of an Instructional Support Levy (ISL) proposed by the Mason City School Board.
The Mason City School Board in March approved an Instructional Support Levy. The levy becomes valid by the board’s action unless a petition is submitted asking for the matter to be resolved by Mason City voters.
To force a vote on the ISL, a petition with 594 valid signatures must be submitted to the Mason City School Board Secretary by April 15th. The number of signatures required is derived from the number of voters in the last school board election. Out of 20,762 eligible voters in Mason City at the 2011 election, 1,977 – or 9.52% – showed up to vote. By law, 30% of 1,977 voters in the last election – 594 – is required to make the petition valid.
Mason City is one of the few school districts in the state of Iowa with no Instruction Support levy at this time. According to the Iowa Association of School Boards, the Instructional support program is miscellaneous income to the school district of up to 10 percent of the regular program cost in the form of property tax and state aid or property tax income surtax and state aid.
The Mason City School Board has also indicated that it intends to impose a Physical Plant and Equipment Levy as well, due to what they say are severe budget cuts at the state level. According to the Mason City School Board, state cuts will continue to lower the tax rate Mason City property owners pay, from about $15.11 per $100,000 of valuation in 2011-2012 to $13.31 in 2012-2013 and further to $11.44 next year, costing the district millions.
It was not immediately known if both levies – the ISL and the PPEL – would end up on the same ballot, or when an election might be held if the petition garners enough signatures.
Interested citizens may download the ISL petition here and sign it and then drop it off at the Mason City School Administration Building with the School Board Secretary, located at 1515 S. Pennsylvania Ave.