Letter to the Editor: Losing local control

To the Editor:

The local option sales tax was approved by Allamakee County voters in 2008 and added 1% to the state sales tax of 6%, for a 7% sales tax rate. The 1% local option sales tax is distributed by the county where it is collected.

In the unincorporated areas of Allamakee County, the voters again approved the measure in 2014. Ballot language stipulated how the funds would be used. It is scheduled to be on the ballot again in 2024. This makes sense - collecting local money and distributing it locally where it is needed.
Senate Study Bill 1125, however, would eliminate the local option sales tax, and increase the state sales tax to 7%. Then the State would determine how to use the extra 1% sales tax.

In Allamakee County, the 1% sales tax receipts are almost $1 million and are distributed as follows: 40% to townships for services that include fire and ambulance, 30% for rural services including law enforcement, and 30% for secondary roads.

Even though the State may have grand plans for the 1% increase in its receipts, it takes away local control. It will take away services from rural Allamakee residents. The Iowa legislature wants to lure rural residents with thoughts of lower tax bills for Iowa property owners, but the elimination of the local option sales tax will create local budget shortfalls that can only be made up by the elimination of services or increased property taxes.

Call or email our Senate and House Representatives to tell them to vote “no” on removing the 1% local option sales tax. Taking away local control and removing services from local rural residents is bad business.

Senator Mike Klimesh can be reached at 515-281-3371 or mike.klimesh@legis.iowa.gov. House Representative Anne Osmundson can be reached at 515-281-3221 or anne.osmundson@legis.iowa.gov.

Dan Byrnes