Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

September 6, 2013

In the House of Wood

Vote Against Levies

Steve Woodhouse

Knoxville — I don't think you should vote to renew the Plant Fund or Equipment levies for Des Moines Area Community College, and I'll tell you why.

First of all, there is no physical DMACC campus in Knoxville, nor will there be. Why send Marion County tax money out of town to support this institution in such a way when DMACC receives taxpayer support from us in other ways? DMACC also charges any student who wants credits tuition, so I don't see the benefit.  

President Rob Denson said it is not a tax increase, it is a continuation of other taxes. I beg to differ.

While it may not be a tax increase for some, there are still many properties in the county who saw their valuations increase. By extension, the more valuable a property is, the more money DMACC will receive through the same levy.

Even if one does not pay property taxes, landlords and businesses have been known to pass on their increased costs. You'll pay. 

I'll admit the levy is not much when compared to one's overall tax bill. But why not take advantage of creating your own tax cut when you can? This is your opportunity. 

Another reason I believe that the levies should not be renewed is that I believe the Legislature will continue to recognize the importance of community colleges as we move forward. That will probably translate to more of your tax dollars paid to the state being allocated to them. 

At the same time, I believe the need for 1.5 million square feet of physical space for DMACC to deliver its services will diminish over time. I fully agree with Denson that there are classes taught at DMACC that will require face to face interaction, but there are going to be more and more credits earned by students over the Internet. 

I'm not necessarily in favor of that, because I found my college experience all the more valuable because of the interaction with professors and students. But, I didn't go to a community college, either, and those students might be looking for something different. It might not be as important to them. 

Over 60 percent of DMACC's revenue comes from tuition. This could drop if students choose not to go there, but DMACC has funding it can fall back on to get through a bad year or two. 

I take issue with Denson's constant comment, “We're a business.” He said he's not allowed to lose money. Marion County Supervisor Mark Raymie also said this week that the courthouse is a big business in downtown Knoxville. 

I think we need to make sure people understand what a business is. I mean no disrespect to Denson or Raymie, but their “businesses” have guaranteed revenue. Does Radio Shack? 

Being a government entity, if their budget fails or expenses become too great, either one can choose to raise taxes. Businesses can raise prices as well, but risk alienating customers. 

DMACC chose to institute a new levy specifically for equipment in 2005. To me, if this levy is not renewed, they should be able to find a way to better budget for equipment through their other revenue streams. Maybe this could lead to tuition increases, but what's wrong with that? Why should taxpayers be forced to continually give more and more money to government, to use to help others, when “others” should start footing more of the burden themselves? 

Vote against these levies. 

Take care of yourself and thank you for reading.