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Joanna Doerder

The $30 million Bettendorf GO bond referendum is an unnecessary tax increase wrongly put on the shoulders of Bettendorf taxpayers. The bond includes the administration's "Wish List." While I don’t oppose any specific project on that list, I do oppose asking taxpayers to vote for and pay higher property taxes to complete projects immediately.

According to the district’s own timeline, all projects would be completed in 3 to 6 years while taxpayers pay the debt for the next 20. In a society plagued by the need for instant gratification, sadly our district has fallen victim to this mentality.

The district should plan, prioritize and complete all projects using the available taxpayer-funded sources and avoid further burdening homeowners with higher property taxes.

The Iowa Local Option Sales and Service Tax (LOSST) and Physical Plant and Equipment Levy (PPEL) are the available taxpayer-funded resources that school districts can use to maintain, modernize and expand their buildings. Using these funds eliminates the need to increase property taxes. These funding sources have been heavily utilized in recent years while enrollment has stayed flat in this landlocked district. The district is now going into long-term debt for the first time two decades.

Had the district opted to do renovations/remodeling of the existing elementary buildings instead of building two new schools, it would have over $15 million dollars at its disposal to cover the cost of much of this GO bond proposal.

The new school building being constructed behind Mark Twain is nearly $3 million over original estimates and the grand total has yet to be seen. Several years ago, this district was debt free. Now we’re looking at $35 million already spent and they’re asking for another $30 million. This is nothing more than taxing us twice for school building projects.

In September, we received updated property tax statements after the re-assessment. The average increase in Bettendorf was 10 percent. This bond increases taxes for every homeowner in the district by an additional five percent for the next 20 years. This district has financial difficulties in its future unless spending halts and focus placed on operating within construction and general operating budgets alike.

All Bettendorf School buildings have secure entrances. According to administration, the additional changes to the secure entrances at Norton and Hoover are the first priority and will be completed regardless if the bond passes. Safety shouldn’t be used to gain support for this GO bond. Maximum safety is the foremost expectation and taxpayers should never be expected to "vote for" or "pay more taxes" for the safety of students.

* 54% funds upgraded finishes, gym renovations, office additions, district wide maintenance and parking lot resurfacing;

* 37% funds athletic spaces;

* 9% directly supports academics;

These numbers should be reprioritized. Priority must be placed on properly maintaining buildings but most importantly on enhancing academic quality through additional STEM and career-ready programming, as it impacts the future workforce in this community.

The district openly stated, the "look" of our buildings and classrooms persuades new families to attend our schools. This bond is not so much "investing in our students' futures," as it is investing in the "look" of our classrooms.

I believe the quality of education and the superior teaching staff inside Bettendorf classrooms is what truly matters.

Make your voice heard and vote "NO" on Dec. 11.

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Joanna Doerder is a resident of the Bettendorf school district

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