West Des Moines Mayor Frustrated by Results of Local Option Sales Tax Vote

Penny closeup. Close-up of Lincoln Penny.

WEST DES MOINES, Iowa -- "I don`t trust them to manage it properly," said Stacie Didier, who works at Atomic Garage in West Des Moines's Valley Junction. Didier is skeptical of the ability of city leaders to use the revenue the tax would have generated properly and she's glad voters in most Polk County cities rejected a one percent sales tax increase.

"I just feel like over the course of the years, our money`s been really, poorly mismanaged," said Didier. "And, I just keep seeing the pressure, the burden being put more and more and more on the people, rather than holding government to be more accountable or more fiscally responsible."

But at nearby Roslin's on 5th, Janelle Ward Schaefer is disappointed the ballot measure failed, saying the proposed tax increase would have been a small price to pay for shoppers; and in return Polk County cities would have received lots of benefits.

"I think this would have been something that I think our consumers could have taken and not hurt them financially," said Schaefer. "Where, you know, taking it on, whether it be property taxes or other things, I think that can hurt them even more financially than just the one percent when we`re buying goods."

Even without the additional revenue it would have received from the tax, the City of West Des Moines says it will continue to move forward with its plans for quality of life projects, like building a boathouse at Raccoon River Park.

"I think it`ll just be probably on a longer time frame than what we had planned," said West Des Moines Mayor Steven Gaer.

But for a community to not be able to determine its own destiny, and to be dependent on other cities for how it chooses to spend its money, is something Mayor Gaer is none too pleased about.

"It's frustrating, because a majority of West Des Moines residents wanted it," said Mayor Gaer. "And, we`ve been working with the Legislature since 2008 to try to get the ability to have the citizens of West Des Moines vote on their own and we could never get the Legislature to change the law to allow that to happen."

Mayor Gaer says West Des Moines will continue to seek private investment to help fund its projects, but will also consider all options to make up the difference.