POLK COUNTY, Iowa -- Tuesday, Polk County residents will vote on a local options sales and services tax that if passed will increase retail taxes from 6 percent to 7 percent.
If passed, each city council will decide how they will spend their revenue. Each ballot will show the percentage the city will use for property tax relief and how the rest of the money will be spent.
A sample ballot for the city of Des Moines states that 50% of the revenue will go towards property tax relief. The other 50% will go toward repairing streets, public safety and improving neighborhoods throughout the City of Des Moines.
But not all cities have to use the money in the same way. Unincorporated Polk County wants to use one third of their proposed revenue for mental health relief.
“So there’s a mental health crisis in the area, Polk County supervisors have decided they were going to go ahead and use some of that money for that if it passes in the unincorporated area,” Polk County Auditor and Commissioner of Elections Jamie Fitzgerald said.
There are eight unincorporated or isolated cities that will vote on this tax for their own city.
There are ten continuous cities, meaning cities whose boundaries touch, that will vote as one block. If 50% plus one of the population votes in favor of the tax it will pass in all ten of those contiguous cities.
There are mixed reviews on raising this tax by one percent. Some say a sales tax is a regressive tax and would hurt lower income and non-property-owning families.
"So the percentage of somebody that's working poor that they spend on sales tax, versus somebody that's not working poor, that's wealthy,” Fitzgerald said.
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie said the tax is a way for the city to keep up with the growing population, "We're not using it for beautification projects, we're fixing streets, we're fixing public safety and we're looking at blights in neighborhoods, especially the inner-city neighborhoods."
Visit the polkcountyiowa.gov/auditor to find your polling locations. Polls are open at 7 A.M. and close at 8 P.M. election results will be on the Polk County website starting at 8 P.M.