STC voters reject PPEL measure

Locals cast their ballots on the proposed South Tama County Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) at the Reinig Center in Toledo on Tuesday. The measure failed with just over 59 percent of voters opposing it and just under 40 percent supporting it. PHOTO BY MICHAEL D. DAVIS

For the time being, South Tama County will remain one of just 49 public school districts in the state without a voter approved Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) after almost 60 percent of the voters who showed up for Tuesday’s special election opposed imposing it at a rate of $1 per $1,000 of property valuation beginning on July 1, 2025.

A total of 536 voters (59.3 percent) opposed the measure while just 368 (40.7 percent) supported it, according to unofficial results from the Tama County Auditor’s Office. If the measure had passed, Superintendent John Cain estimated that it would have generated upwards of $400,000 in annual revenue to be put toward technology, transportation, facilities maintenance and safety and security expenditures.

Back in 2013, STC voters defeated the 10-year reauthorization of PPEL by a single vote during a special election, and a second attempt to reauthorize it in 2014 failed by a wider margin of 132 votes, meaning the tax was no longer collected beginning on July 1, 2015.

The outcome was not the one Cain had hoped for, but in a statement to the News Chronicle, he thanked everyone who had voted and made their voices heard.

“Our community has spoken, and while we are disappointed with our PPEL results, we have every intention to move forward and focus on enhancing student safety at the high school and continue working towards enhancing district student achievement efforts,” he said. “We are very fortunate that we have our middle school project underway. That project is developing on time and at budget. As such, the School Board and administration will now begin the work to find solutions to other District needs that our community can support. We thank our community members for taking their time to vote.”

Local man votes at the Reinig center on Tuesday. PHOTO BY MICHAEL BALLOT DAVIS

Cain said that to this point, there have been no discussions about putting PPEL back on the ballot before next July.

Volunteers run Tuesday’s special election at the Reinig center. PHOTO BY MICHAEL BALLOT DAVIS