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Special City Council meeting to be held after Polk County LOSST vote

Post Date:03/06/2019 11:07 AM
The West Des Moines City Council will hold a special meeting on Wednesday, March 13, at 7:30 a.m., to approve a revised budget if Polk County voters pass a one-cent Local Option Sales and Services Tax (LOSST) on Tuesday, March 5. The meeting will be held in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 4200 Mills Civic Parkway.

The ballot asks residents to approve or disapprove increasing the sales tax in Polk County from 6 to 7 cents. If the measure is approved by West Des Moines voters who live in Polk County, City Manager Tom Hadden said the City Council will approve a budget on March 13 that will use 50% of the sales tax revenue collected from the one-cent sales tax to reduce the City’s property tax rate.

“If the sales tax is approved, we want to reduce our property tax rate as soon as possible so our residents will be able to see the City’s tax rate reduced this year instead of sometime in 2020,” Hadden said.

The Council reduced the City’s tax rate for all West Des Moines residents by 23 cents per $1,000 of property valuation when a similar measure passed in Dallas County in 2017. If this measure passes in Polk County, Hadden said the City’s tax rate will be reduced by an additional 75 cents, bringing the total tax reduction to 98 cents per $1,000 of valuation.

The Polk County rate reduction, when combined with the reduction from Dallas County, will amount to about an 8 percent reduction in the City’s tax rate.

The West Des Moines City Council also has approved using the remaining 50% of revenue generated by the sales tax for public safety expenses (hiring 7 new police officers and 5 firefighters), additional public infrastructure improvements for transportation and traffic flow as well as flood control projects, quality of life projects, such as the Five Waters Project, and a major refurbishment of the Public Library.

“Our residents will decide on March 5 if Polk County should join the other 97 counties and over 1,200 communities in Iowa that have a one-cent sales tax,” he said. “We’re pleased the Iowa Legislature changed the law so West Des Moines residents can decide what’s best for our community.”

According to a recent Retail Trade Analysis Report by the Department of Economics at Iowa State University, forty eight percent of the sales tax revenue generated in Polk County comes from visitors who purchase goods and services without contributing to the costs of providing services in West Des Moines.

"We encourage everyone to learn about this ballot measure for the March 5 vote by visiting our website at www.wdm.iowa.gov," Hadden said. "Retail estimates show West Des Moines would receive about $7 million annually from the one cent sales tax."