Passing Bond Measures for Needed Improvements

In Iowa and Nebraska, we just went through a round of bond measures on spring ballots or in special elections. These bond measures are often the primary means for K12 schools to get the funding needed for updates and improvements.

Mixed Perception on Bond Measures

Public perception of bond measures is often mixed. For residents with school age children, they often see the value—and direct benefit for their family—in the measure. But for many in the community, bond measures can be seen as a “tax increase” as they impact property taxes. That negative light can put the measure in jeopardy, and along with it any needed school improvements.

Education is the Key to Passing Bond Measures

The first step in helping pass a bond measure is to make sure the broader community knows why the measure is needed—and specifically what improvements will be made with the funds. By engaging your community early in the process, you create a sense of ownership and buy-in. The vision and plan created from this collaboration has been a crucial step in our recent successful bond elections. We work with school districts across the region to develop messaging and materials that aid in communicating their vision and need to their community. We gear these materials, including a website, to focus on how the bond measure is necessary to achieve those improvements. We also include information on voting dates, locations and times, and how to ensure a resident is registered to vote. A section with frequently asked questions helps dispel any myths around the bond measure—financial or otherwise.

Financial Impact of Bond Measures is Often Misunderstood

Lastly, it’s important to help residents understand their personal financial impact from the bond measure. Without accurate data, the perception that a bond measure will be a significant tax increase can become the mantra. We help educate homeowners with a property tax calculator that estimates their annual property tax increase from the bond measure. A resident just has to put in the assessed value of their home and the calculator shows their personal property tax change for the year. Most of the time, bond measures have a minimal impact on property taxes for individual residents. In a recent example, a $19 million bond measure had an impact of around $5.00/month for the average resident of a community. A very small price to pay for much needed improvements!

Keep the Facts Front and Center to Win Your Bond Measure

In short, the more you can keep the conversation about your bond measure to the facts—and the minimal impact on the average resident—the greater your chance of winning. At CMBA we quite literally wrote the book on passing bonds. Get in touch and we’ll be happy to share the “do’s and don’ts” of helping your next bond measure pass.

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Our offices across Iowa and Nebraska have specialists ready to work on projects throughout the country. Learn more about each office below and reach out to discuss your next project.

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