Above: Des Moines County Board of Supervisor Tom Broeker, right, talks to county supervisor Shane McCampbell during a board meeting last month. Beacon File Photo/John Lovretta
By Beacon Staff
City and county governments are anxiously awaiting the Iowa Legislature to vote on a tax reform bill so they can adjust their annual budgets.
As of Wednesday, Feb. 8, Iowa lawmakers were attempting to advance a proposal to fix a state error that could save taxpayers money but could leave local governments short millions in expected revenue.
“It looks like they will almost certainly do this, and it will reduce our tax base,” Des Moines County Supervisor Tom Broeker said. “We (the county) have a bat, and the legislature pitches, and whatever comes across the plate, you’re going to swing on it or not.”
The supervisors had planned on voting for a resolution that would have set a public hearing for the total amount of tax dollar levy during Tuesday’s meeting.
Broeker pulled the resolution from the agenda and hopes to put it back on within the next few weeks.
The planned date for the public hearing was Feb. 21, but the legislature will also be voting on allowing extra time for municipalities to set their budget in the wake of the changes.
“The resolution, setting the date for the maximum tax dollars, we can’t do that, because we don’t know what the tax base will show. Hopefully, we will find out shortly,” Broeker said.
It’s not just the county. The city of Burlington could lose $140,000 in projected revenue due to the mistake in the calculation of property rollback taxes at the state level.
Representatives for Iowa’s cities, counties, school districts, and community colleges have been urging lawmakers to delay changing the property tax rollback rate for residential properties to fix an oversight from a previously passed property tax reform package.
City manager Chad Bird didn’t sound hopeful during the city council work session on Monday, Jan. 31.
“I think that (plea) fell on deaf ears,” Bird said.
The city council did approve a resolution to set a public hearing date (Feb. 21) for the maximum amount of tax dollars, though everything in the budget is tentative.
“We’re moving forward with the process because we don’t know when those changes are happening,” Stephanie Stuecker, director of administrative services, said during the Monday night council meeting.
The unexpected relief for taxpayers would mean less money for local governments, which could be forced to recoup that funding by cutting services from the next budget.
Representatives for Iowans for Tax Relief and the Iowa Taxpayers Association said a delay would equate to higher property tax bills for Iowa homeowners.
Victoria Sinclair with Iowans for Tax Relief noted the bill does not preclude local governments from raising property tax rates or using cash reserves to account for a revenue shortfall.