One Meeeellion Dollars

From today’s Gazette

The first formal action by the Iowa Senate came Tuesday in the form of modest property tax relief.
Senators voted 46-0 to earmark about $1.2 million into a property tax replacement risk pool available to help counties that face problems meeting their mental-health program obligations. An oversight board handles the fund, which is designed to help counties ease the cost of mental-health costs to local property owners.
The money, which totals $627,000 this fiscal year and grows to nearly $1.2 million each year thereafter, resulted from a tax change enacted about five years ago that created a windfall to the state via the sale by Alliant Energy of the Duane Arnold Energy Plant near Palo to FPL Energy of Vero Beach, Fla. Alliant sold its 70 percent majority share of the 595-megawatt plant to FPL in January 2006.
Senate File 2023 now goes to the House, where approval is expected.

Of course, it goes without saying that the Legislature should be embarrassed to call this property tax relief. You’d need an electron microscope to see what percentage $1.2 million is compared to the total property tax load Iowans pay.

Contrast that with, say, the 4.3 percent average pay raise county elected officials across Iowa received in Fiscal Year 2008, according to a report by the Iowa State Association of Counties. Salaries to elected officials topped $37.7 million.  We get $1.2 million.

The report makes for interesting reading if you have time.

Oh, but don’t worry, folks, there’s a bipartisan, blue-ribbon committee on the case. They’ll have some really great reform ideas — maybe in 2009. And there’s no chance its recommendations will be swiftly shipped to the same giant aluminum Astro building on the outskirts of the Des Moines where all the other grand, blue-ribbon tax system studies are piled, gathering dust.

OK, there is no such building, but there should be.

Until our elected lawmakers grow the kind of super-spines they’ll need to take on on local government officials, Iowans for Tax Relief, the Iowa Farm Bureau and everybody else who cares more about their own sacred turf than the state’s future, property taxes will remain archaic, confounding and high.

Legislators also need a pile of dough higher than Mt. Trashmore to get it done, which isn’t going to be rolling in during a recession.

So sit back and think up ways to save your tax break. Tax relief, plus the change in my cup-holder, is going to get my that 2-liter Mountain Dew I’ve had my eye on.



1 Comment

Filed under County Government, Iowa Legislature, Property Taxes

One response to “One Meeeellion Dollars

  1. Doug

    I remember back when the Iowa League of Cities and the State Association of Counties were able to come together and propose property tax changes…nothing was acted on and a blue-ribbon committee was formed.

    3 or 4 years later, nothing’s changed. I understand that these decisions are landscape-changing, but there has to be a way to keep progressing down a path. An entrepreneurial private enterprise could never get away with shelving something like this for so long. Our legislators need to take action soon.

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