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CR School District Seeks to Double Levy

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28) -- The Cedar Rapids School District says its buildings are in need of some major repairs, and now they're asking voters for the money to do make those repairs happen.

Early voting is already underway for the district's request to double its facilities levy from $3.5 million to $7 million, an increase that superintendent Dave Benson says is necessary to repair its aging infrastructure.

"Having a proactive plan, I think, in any business of this size should be expected, and we are asking to fund that," Benson said.

That's the first reason he said voters should support the levy increase.

The second, he said, is safety. Tripping hazards are the top worker's compensation claim the district pays for.

"So we have a genuine safety issue for our patrons, for our students and our staff," Benson said.

Third, he said, is simple competition. People can -- and will -- go anywhere for a good education, and Benson wants to make sure families want to stay in the district.

"We're the namesake of our community, we need to invest in our community, we need to invest in our community schools to keep them viable," he said.

The district needs about $200 million worth of repairs, according to a citizen's advisory review board report. This levy increase -- the maximum allowed by state law -- will only pay for $70 million in repairs.

But it will mean a substantial increase in the taxes homeowners pay. For houses worth $100,000, people will see a $37 increase in their property taxes.

That has some concerned about shelling out more money to local officials.

"I think they should be looking at alternatives to increasing property taxes," said Linn County resident Brendan Benter.

But, as Cedar Rapids resident John Robinson put it, he just wants to make sure the money ends up in the right place.

"Whenever any of us have to pay more taxes, most of us are willing to do that, I think, as long as it's needed, and it's well spent," Robinson said.

Early voting on the issue started last Friday, and the official election day is September 10.

Find out more about the proposed repairs in the district's Facilities Master Plan, here.
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