Okoboji vote for future building funds

Okoboji School District voters will head to the polls Tuesday, Sept. 10, to decide to adopt a revenue purpose statement specifying the use of revenues Okoboji would receive from Iowa’s Secure an Advanced Vision for Education Fund. SAVE allows Iowa school districts to borrow against statewide penny sales tax revenue to help fund infrastructure projects.

MILFORD—The Okoboji School District has scheduled a special election for Tuesday, Sept. 10, in regard to funding for future school infrastructure projects.

Voters in the school district will be able to choose whether to adopt a revenue purpose statement specifying the use of revenues Okoboji would receive from Iowa’s Secure an Advanced Vision for Education (SAVE) Fund on or after Jan. 1, 2031.

If Okoboji voters pass the public measure during the special election, the school district’s revenue purpose statement, which is in effect until 2031, would be extended until 2051.

The polls for the special election will be open 7 a.m.-8 p.m. at the Milford Community Building. A simple majority is needed for the public measure to pass.

On May 24, Gov. Kim Reynolds signed Iowa House File 546 into law, extending the statewide penny sales tax to Jan. 1, 2051; the SAVE legislation is projected to generate a total of $26.2 billion between 2019 and 2051.

SAVE allows Iowa school districts to borrow against statewide penny sales tax revenue to help fund school infrastructure projects.

“The revenue purpose statement defines the parameters and limits of how the school district can spend the money that we collect as part of SAVE, or the sales tax,” said Okoboji superintendent Todd Abrahamson.

“What we want our voters to understand is that this is nothing new and that the revenue purpose statement or the reauthorization or extension of SAVE — it’s not a property tax increase or an increase in any taxes,” he said.

He said the SAVE law extension benefits school districts.

“It helps alleviate that property tax burden,” Abrahamson said. “Most districts, many years ago, went to a statewide penny so there’s equal distribution as far as a dollar amount based on the number of students you have on your certified enrollment.

“We have to resubmit our revenue purpose statement before 2031 because that’s when the current SAVE expires,” he said. “A lot of districts are doing it now because they still have those infrastructure needs.”

He talked about the Okoboji High School and Okoboji Elementary buildings in Milford.

“We still have to address our infrastructure of electrical, plumbing, window removal/replacement, tuckpointing of our external brick walls,” Abrahamson said.

“We have to complete the rest of our roof and HVAC replacements on our high school and elementary and also repair and replace parking lots and much more in the two facilities,” he said.

He noted the special election will have no effect on the new Okoboji Middle School building being constructed next to the high school.

Last year, district voters ap­­proved a $25 million bond issue for the building project, along with football field and track renovations and some roofing and heating, ventilating and air conditioning work.

“This is a continuation of our infrastructure needs of our elementary and high school facilities,” Abrahamson said of the point of the special election.

He said Okoboji, as a school district, wants to be proactive in its long-term planning and not wait for the future.

“Travis Ferguson, who is our maintenance director, is currently developing our preventive maintenance plan to lower and control future costs,” Abrahamson said. “This begins with the re-submittal of our revenue purpose statement.”