Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

January 30, 2014

Effects of Property Tax Reform still unknown

Steve Woodhouse

Knoxville — The Marion County Board of Supervisors has been busy this week, meeting with County Department heads regarding each one's budget requests for the coming fiscal year. Meanwhile, the amount of potentially lost revenue due to Property Tax Reform is still unknown. 

County Assessor Drew Sanders said he and his office support lower taxes for taxpayers, but less money does mean less services. In 2015, a new multi-residential classification will be added, which will include a rollback, which also means reduced taxes. Sanders is among the County Assessors working on a presentation for the Iowa State Association of County Assessors to research how much less revenue will be available to taxing districts, including counties, school districts and cities. They hope to have a presentation ready for the Iowa State Association of Counties' meeting in the spring. 

Actual losses remain unknown, as the Legislature allocated in 2013 $50 million to compensate local governments for losses due to Property Tax Reform. Whether or not this will be enough to maintain each local governments' budget is unknown. 

Included in the reform is also a new exemption for taxes for telephone and utility companies. The reduction of taxes from this exemption is also unknown. 

When asked if the County, long term, would have the current level of funds available to provide services, Sanders said he believed it would, given expected property valuations. There may be a few difficult years for counties to maintain their current spending levels, however.