By Kyle Oppenhuizen


Des Moines Area Community College President Rob Denson today began a campaign to promote the renewal of two property tax levies that will help the college create additional space needed to train more nurses, skilled factory workers and truckers.


Two annual tax levies that help pay for the college's physical plant and equipment needs are up for their required vote for renewal every 10 years. The college is not asking to increase the levies, which total 26.25 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value. The combined levies raise a total of about $9 million per year for the college. 


The levies require a simple majority vote in the Sept. 10 school board elections.


In an interview with the Des Moines Business Record, Denson said he doesn't specifically expect voter opposition, but he's making the rounds at local newspapers, and has asked Polk County's  Democratic and Republican party organizations to urge their members to turn out and vote for the levies.

Voter turnout  in school board elections is typcially low. In the 2011 school board elections, just 7.36 percent of Polk County voters, or 19,787 people, voted according to the Polk County Election Office.


The levy won't add taxes to any property owners. Denson said the money will go toward:

  • Expanding classroom and lab space for advanced manufacturing and automotive programs at the Ankeny campus, as well as building a new student center.
  • Increasing space for the civil engineering tech and Department of Transportation training programs on the Boone campus.
  • A new building at the urban campus to house a library, student services and computer labs.
  • Enlarging the building at the West Des Moines campus, which is at capacity.

It also may help fund needed renovations to the 64,000 square-foot Penny's building that Southridge Mall donated to DMACC, which will become a Center for Career and Professional Development at Southridge Mall.  


"We need that capacity. When Southridge is up, that is going to be a major shot in the arm," Denson said.


"Companies want the students, students want in. But we can only do so much....," said Denson. "You can't teach welding online very well, or nursing, or so many other things. So we need physical space."