The renewal of the Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (“PPEL”) is on the ballot in November. This levy, the funds from which can only be used for repairs and maintenance of school buildings along with a range of equipment needs, from buses to technology, must be renewed by voters every 10 years. Des Moines voters have renewed this levy every time it has been on the ballot.
Although PPEL represents only 1.6% of the school district’s annual budget it plays a critical role in providing financial support for technology for Des Moines students and teachers. Approval of the PPEL will provide Des Moines Public Schools with a long-term revenue stream to maintain more than 6 million square feet of school buildings, and the additional revenue (about $6.5 million) will allow DMPS to make continued investments in technology
If renewed by the voters DMPS will have a PPEL equal to every other school district in the Metro area. The maximum levy is $1.34/1000, the current DMPS levy is $0.63/1000. That means Iowa’s largest school district is receiving nearly 40% less in PPEL revenue than its neighbors.
The school board is asking voters to extend the levy another 10 years and allow them to raise PPEL to the same level as every other school district in Polk County.
It will not change the overall property tax rate. As Des Moines Public Schools increases PPEL, it would also lower other levies that cannot be used for technology or maintenance by an equal amount. The result is no change in the total property tax rate.