Monday Reads — Tax Week

Two big tax issues face moments of truth this week.

Cedar Rapids and voters across Linn County vote Tuesday on local option sales tax measures. The penny increase in Cedar Rapids would go mostly for buying and repairing flooded out homes, with a 10 percent share also going for property tax relief. Linn County’s auditor is predicting 25 percent turnout countywide, which I guess is better than your average special election, but still on the pathetic side. Just more than 3,200 absentee votes have been cast with 700 more still out.

As of this morning, only 78 people have voted in my online survey. It’s 37 for, 36 against and 5 undecided.

The Des Moines Register has an overview this morningof the CR vote, which it calls “a pivotal vote for the city’s future.” If it fails, the story notes predictions by local officials of sharp property tax increases to come. If it passes, property taxes will still go up, but less severely.

At the Statehouse, an 8-cent gas tax increase could face a committee vote this week. The Gazette/Lee’s Rod Boshart reports that the Senate Transportation Committee could take up the measure as early as Thursday. The Iowa DOT says the money is needed to keep up with road work, university economists say it’s probably the best way to get the bucks and key lawmakers back the idea. But Gov. Chet Culver opposes an increase.

Beyond taxes and death, severe weather is also a certainty. Just like the annual storm shelter debate at the Statehouse.

This year, as Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson reports, lawmakers are considering a bill that would require new apartment buildings, hotels and dorms to be built with storm shelters. Construction groups contend that mandate would jack up the price condos etc.

Also, the Iowa Emergency Management Association wonders why lawmakers would take up this bill when they dropped a measure last year that would have required shelters in mobile home parks, which are far more vulnerable. Good question.

And, in honor of Paul Harvey, (pause) good day.

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