Waterloo School Board weighing sales tax vote

The Waterloo School Board held its monthly meeting Monday night, discussing the possibility of putting a county-wide sales tax up to a public vote next spring, among other matters.

The school board is trying to decide if the sales tax increase would be an appropriate way to fund their district. Educating a majority of Monroe County’s students, Waterlooโ€™s decision would be enough to warrant putting the tax up to a public vote county-wide.

The tax would be as much as one percent on all goods sold in the county except groceries, farm equipment, vehicles and pharmaceuticals. The school board could also decide to vote on a tax of a quarter of one percent, a half of one percent, or three-quarters of one percent.

The money raised would be equally distributed across all county schools based on enrollment.

These funds could be used on capital improvements, collateral, or tax abatement.

Waterloo School Superintendent Brian Charron described capital improvements as any educational material that cannot be moved.

If the sales tax is put to a vote and passed, Charron expects the tax to bring in approximately $1.1 million for the Waterloo school district alone. This would be helpful to a district that expects to be paying long-term debt payments until at least 2031.

The new revenue would give the district more time to pay its bills without being forced to raise property taxes, school officials said. It would also give the district a cushion as the local economy grows at a slightly lower rate than experts originally expected.

While discussing the potential tax vote, the school board was very clear that it wanted to emphasize transparency throughout the process. The issue will be seen on the agenda in each of the next few meetings. The next meeting will be June 15 at Gardner Elementary. The board has until its

December meeting to make a final decision.

If the board does vote to put the sales tax to a county-wide vote, it would be seen on the ballot next March.

In other news, the board also discussed potential heating and cooling improvements at Zahnow and Gardner. The repairs would cost approximately $100,000 but could save the district as much as $20,000 per year in energy costs.

Other action included a potential public sale of surplus supplies as well as the district raising $78,328 this year for the American Heart Association through its Jump Rope for Heart campaign.

The highest donating students will be honored during a Gateway Grizzlies game on May 31.

The board accepted a letter of transfer from Deana Batson, who will move to the superintendent’s office as an administrative assistant. Also approved were the resignations of special education teacher Gina Gunn and special education paraprofessional Amber Lavender, and the re-employment of special education paraprofessionals Mindi Bremer, Sarah Paulissen, Melissa Lammert, Jennifer Kretchmer and Stacey Cawvey.

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