As local school board races are decided across the state, voters in a 10-county region of Northeast Iowa are choosing whether to renew an instructional equipment levy for Hawkeye Community College on Tuesday (Sept. 8, 2015).

The levy, overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2007, has been used to fund the purchase of instructional equipment and technology for classrooms, laboratories, and outlying centers. Specific examples include equipment for Hawkeye’s Patient Simulator Lab, dental program clinical equipment, audio/visual equipment improvements, air compressors for career and technical programs, and transportation and heavy equipment simulators.

Renewal of the levy will not result in an increase in the property tax rate. The owner of a $100,000 home would pay $3.34 per year. With the six-cent levy included, Hawkeye’s current overall tax rate will still be approximately five-cents lower than the property tax rate assessed by the college in 2007.

Levy renewal will also allow Hawkeye and taxpayers to save money associated with future elections. In May 2015, Gov. Terry Branstad signed a bill giving community college trustees the authority to renew instructional equipment and facility maintenance levies at the same tax rate for 10 years, if each levy has been in place for 20 consecutive years. This election will help Hawkeye meet the 20-year threshold.

Hawkeye has identified a number of future needs, including equipment and technology for its new Adult Education Center and Health Services Building. In addition, the college will be upgrading its instructional technology in classrooms and expanding its simulation training opportunities.

The equipment tax is on the ballot in all or parts of Benton, Black Hawk, Bremer, Buchanan, Butler, Chickasaw, Grundy, Fayette, Floyd, and Tama counties. Registered voters in the following school districts can vote: Allison-Bristow, Aplington-Parkersburg, Cedar Falls, Clarksville, Denver, Dike-New Hartford, Dunkerton, East Buchanan, Gladbrook-Reinbeck, Grundy Center, Hudson, Independence, Janesville, Jesup, Nashua-Plainfield, North Tama County, Sumner, Tripoli, Union Community, Wapsie Valley, Waterloo, and Waverly-Shell Rock.

A simple majority of voters must favor the levy for it to pass. If approved, the levy would go into effect with the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018, and last a decade. It currently generates $519,000 per year.

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Along with the instructional equipment levy referendum, four members of Hawkeye Community College's Board of Trustees are running for re-election on Tuesday. None of them, though, are facing a challenger.