Iowa Valley analyzes failed bond results

Iowa Valley Community College District officials are reviewing the failed $32 million bond election from earlier this month.

That issue got 58.4 percent voter approval across the district, fewer than two points short of the needed 60 percent approval to pass. Officials have identified a few areas to improve the next time they go out to bond.

“We had really good support, we came close. We feel like if we spend more time in some of the smaller communities and did a more expansive job … that we would have a good chance to pass it,” said Iowa Valley Marketing Director Robin Anctil.

At an Iowa Valley board retreat earlier this week, Chancellor Chris Duree went over some possible strategies for sharing the bond message next time around.

In smaller communities, officials said they think town-hall-style meetings and more service club presentations would help. Reaching out to local partners like schools and businesses was another idea.

Improving satellite voting location participation was another suggestion, as was increasing the number of employees, students and community stakeholders getting the word out about the bond.

Allowing more time between the board’s approval of a bond question and the bond election will be another key factor.

“We feel that we were a little pinched for time on the first round,” Duree said.

He said people tended to show support for the issue after being informed about the district’s need for the fixes and renovations the bond would have paid for.

Duree has made clear the district’s intention to go after another bond election in the near future, but exactly when that takes place is undecided.

“We cannot go again for another bond issue for six months, that’s a state code requirement,” Anctil said. “The next opportunity to do that would be in November.”

Marshall County Auditor and Recorder Nan Benson confirmed Nov. 5 would be the next eligible date for the bond to come back on the ballot. That is the same day as the combined city and school board elections. The filing deadline for the Nov. 5 election is Sept. 20.

There are several other dates in 2020 that could also be chosen for the bond election. Those include March 3, May 5, August 4 and December 8.

Benson’s office released the official vote totals from the April 2 election after a canvass earlier this week.

Most of the votes came from Marshall, Hardin and Poweshiek counties, where the district’s three campuses are located. The lowest approval rating came from Tama County at 51.5 percent.

Election Day polling locations were based on school districts within Iowa Valley’s 10-county territory. Officials in Marshall, Grundy, Tama, Poweshiek and Hardin counties collected the votes.

“All of the polling locations were in those five counties,” Benson said.

If it had passed, the millions of dollars in the bond would have gone toward several maintenance, repair and renovation projects district-wide. Most of the work would have gone to Ellsworth Community College in Iowa Falls, but significant amounts would also have gone toward Marshalltown Community College, Iowa Valley Grinnell and the district’s information technology system.

The bond would also have meant an increase in property taxes for district residents.

“I think that we’ll be successful,” Anctil said.

This is not the first time the district has faced a failed bond vote. A $35 million bond got voter approval in 2006 after previously failing to pass.

By the numbers — Iowa Valley bond official votes

• Total vote: 2,237 for, 1,591 against — 58.4 percent approval

• Marshall County: 976 for, 763 against — 56.1 percent approval

• Hardin County: 620 for, 286 against — 68.4 percent approval

• Poweshiek County: 382 for, 345 against — 52.5 percent approval

• Tama County: 120 for, 113 against — 51.5 percent approval

• Grundy County: 139 for, 84 against — 62.3 percent approval


Contact Adam Sodders at

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