Journal Express, Knoxville, IA

Opinion

April 22, 2013

Heartsill Report

The Cost of Doing Nothing

(Continued)

Des Moines —

 
·       After the 20% forced rollback, three classes of property are tied together with a 2% assessment growth limitation (Commercial, AG and Residential)
 
·       Industrial will not be tied with the other three classes, but will mirror commercial. Meaning, whatever commercial is assessed at, industrial will receive the same treatment.

School District Funding

 
·       Raises the school foundation formula from 87.5% to 95% over 4 years

Multi-residential Property Classification

 
·       Adds a new property tax classification for nursing homes, assisted living facilities, residential care facilities, mobile home parks, manufactured home communities.
 
·       Assessed as commercial the first year, then rolled back to 60% over four years.  At that point, taxed the same as residential.

Telecommunications Property Taxation

 
·       Central office equipment is exempted from taxation
 
·       Land, buildings and outside plant is then rolled back to 80% the first year, 60% the second.

One of the major concerns raised with the House version of Property Tax Reform has been from local municipalities who are apprehensive about trusting future legislatures with fulfilling the promise made by the current one; Specifically the promise to backfill the revenue losses to local governments due to the 20% rollback.  While I agree that is a valid concern, I would also point out that future legislatures would have to take action to defund the backfill.  In other words, the backfill to local governments is automatically funded as an on-going expense of state government, in the House version.

Contrast that with the Senate version.  Their version of property tax reform would require the legislature to actively appropriate the property tax credit fund from the General Fund on an annual basis.  It would not happen automatically.  Therefore the Senate version does not lend much confidence and predictability to Iowa businesses as the House version would.  The maximum amount that could be appropriated in the Senate’s property tax credit fund would be $250 million.  While the House version provides approximately $339 million in property tax relief when fully implemented.

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