Jackson County voters will decide several tax-related issues during a special election next week.

Polls open at 7 a.m. Tuesday, March 2, for a special election that will determine the outcome of five separate measures. All voters will decide one bond referendum issue, while the four remaining measures will be determined by the voter’s residency, according to Jackson County Auditor Alisa Smith.

The deadline has passed for requesting absentee ballots. Those who already requested an absentee ballot must mail it before March 1 to be counted.

Jackson County voters wishing to vote absentee in-person may do so Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the auditor’s office, located inside the Jackson County Courthouse at 201 W. Platt St., Maquoketa.

Otherwise, voters should report to their precinct polling location between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. March 2.

Smith’s office will update election results online after polls close and precincts begin reporting voting tallies.

Issues on the ballot

Each Jackson County voter will, for the third time, choose whether to approve the sale of bonds for a new county jail.

The Jackson County Board of Supervisors has proposed a $5.9 million jail and law enforcement center to be built on the corner of East Maple Street and Jacobsen Drive in Maquoketa. The jail will have 30 beds with room for future expansion.

Because taxpayer dollars are used to repay bonds, 60% voter approval is required before the bonds can be issued.

Two previous jail bond referendums — in 2018 and 2019 — failed to gain voter approval.

Most Jackson County voters will decide whether to approve the sale of $40 million in bonds to add career and technical training opportunities for students of all ages in the Eastern Iowa Community College District. Residents in the far western and northern parts of the county will not vote on the EICC measure as they live outside the college’s taxing district.

The CTE program aims to put workforce-ready degrees in the hands of students who do not pursue higher education after college, according to Donald Doucette, EICC chancellor.

EICC needs a 60% majority of voters within its footprint (Jackson, Clinton, Scott, Louisa, Muscatine, Cedar, Johnson, and Dubuque counties) to approve the measure. 

If voters approve it, money from the sale of bonds would cover new construction, equipment, and furnishing needs for the program. For example, Clinton Community College, which is part of EICC, already has a campus in Maquoketa. Its proposed career academies would expand from welding to include CNC machining, engineering technology, and information technology.

Some similar and some unique career academies would be offered at different participating school districts and EICC campuses, some requiring the construction of additions or a new building.

Because debt from previous capital projects will be paid off this year, passing this proposed referendum would have minimal impact on tax rates, according to EICC officials.

Should the referendum pass, the new facilities and equipment should be in use by the fall of 2022, or 2023 at the latest.

Andrew Community School District voters will decide whether to approve a $1.34 million physical plant and equipment property tax levy. The PPEL levy provides the district with funds to maintain school buildings, complete site improvements and purchase school equipment.

The PPEL-generated funds would be used for projects such as classroom updates, boiler maintenance, replacement of heating system controls, possible upgrade to a new HVAC system, roof replacement, new plumbing, and the replacement of school vehicles, according to an informational flyer mailed in the school newsletter.

If approved, the levy would be in place for 10 years. 

Residents in the Bellevue Community School District will decide whether to re-authorize the current revenue purpose statement for S.A.V.E. (Secure an Advanced Vision for Education) funds.

The revenue purpose statement allows public schools to spend their share of the revenue generated by sales tax funds collected across the state.

Voter approval will not increase local property taxes, according to Bellevue Superintendent Tom Meyer.

The measure requires 50% plus one vote to pass.

The Western Dubuque Community School District, headquartered in Farley, dips slightly into the northern portion of Jackson County.

As a result, Jackson residents living in that district will be asked to renew the physical plant and equipment levy for 10 years. The levy supports facilities and equipment projects throughout the district. 

The tax would be an extension of the existing PPEL, which will expire in 2022, and its approval would not increase the district’s tax asking, officials said.