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Sales Tax Hike Could Be Back on the Ballot for Cities Who Rejected It Eight Months Ago

CLIVE, Iowa — A tax increase that metro communities jointly rejected just nine months ago is likely headed back to the ballot.

On March 6, voters in ten Polk County communities voted down a local option sales tax (LOSST). It would have raised the sales tax from six to seven percent.

State lawmakers have since changed the requirements for approval. Cities can now vote independently on the tax hike, rather than a collective unit.

In the Clive city council meeting on Thursday, the council discussed funding a public education campaign for a possible future tax vote. The campaign would be used to inform voters about the impact of a tax increase. It’s nearly identical to the sales tax hike voted down just nine months ago.

On March 6, Clive rejected the one cent hike in a vote tallying 441 to 377. Residents shopping on the Polk County side of Clive Friday night say they understand why it was declined.

“On the one hand, I don’t think raising it from six to seven [percent] is going to cause anybody to start or stop shopping at any given place. On the other hand, I think what a lot of taxpayers push for, what I push for is good, strong financial management because it’s always easier to go back to the pot and get more money. It’s not so easy when you manage what you actually have,” Bob Seeley said.

But had the LOSST gone through, Clive was estimated to get over $1.7 million in LOSST revenue from Polk County. They are already receiving approximately $700,000 from Dallas County after a November 2017 vote approved the tax hike.

“Well, sales taxes are always a good thing; I suppose from that perspective. But anytime you are putting up taxes it’s just problematic for more people,” Russell Bird said.

The city of Clive’s ballot language for the 2018 special election states they would use 50 percent of the money from LOSST tax for property tax relief and 50 percent for capital projects, such as street improvements and park and trail improvements.

“To be honest we are hearing so many stories of misuse of funds, not necessarily of property tax funds, but funds by our schools and different places,” Marna Landwehr said. “I think we really need to see where the money is being spent, why we really need it.”

We attempted to get more information about the 2019 effort this afternoon. Assistant City Manager Pete De Kock declined to comment on the priority and emailed council members encouraging them not to comment as well.

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