Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Local News

March 8, 2013

Education, property taxes dominate legislative forum

(Continued)

Public Schools receive a great deal of funding through property tax, and reducing the tax burden to make Iowa more business-friendly, was a promise made by Sinclair, Rozenboom, VanderLinden and Heartsill. Those in attendance want to see their taxes reduced as well.

According to Sheets, Iowa has the highest corporate income taxes and the highest average property taxes in the country. He was surprised to learn of some of the levels of taxes paid in Iowa.

VanderLinden said there are several bills drafted that address property tax, most of them with the goal of lowering taxes across the board and backfilling local governments to the extent that the state can.

“We’re trying to lower property taxes across the board,” VanderLinden said. He added that even if this Legislature passes a reform, promises could not be made that increases will not come from a future Legislature.

Sinclair would like to see a provision, in whatever reform is adopted, that would force the state to maintain its promise of backfilling losses incurred by local governments, and that they be allowed to raise taxes for essential services if necessary.

“I would want protection in there,” Sinclair said.

“Government’s never going to run out of need for money,” Heartsill said. He reminded the crowd of the Knoxville City Council’s decision to institute Franchise Fees on its electric and gas utility bills, to be prepared for any impact from property tax reform. He was critical of the City’s decision to move forward with the fees, even after it was clear that reform would not happen last year.

Knoxville City Councilor April Verwers was in attendance and told Heartsill that, even though the revenue from the fees was not needed to backfill property tax reform, the council is using the money to otherwise improve the city. For instance, the council is using some of the money to avoid sewer and property tax increases.

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