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Local option sales tax vote set for Aug. 6 in 5 Polk County cities

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Polk County voters in five communities on Aug. 6 will decide whether to implement a 1-cent sales tax, which provides cities with another source of revenue in addition to property taxes.

In March, voters in Altoona, Des Moines, Pleasant Hill, West Des Moines and Windsor Heights approved the tax, which went into effect in those communities on July 1.

If voters in Bondurant, Grimes, Johnston and the Polk County portions of Clive and Urbandale approve raising the sales tax to 7% from 6% on Aug. 6, collection would begin Jan. 1. The Dallas County portions of Clive and Urbandale already have the tax.

A majority of voters in each community must approve the tax for it to go into effect in that community. 

Currently, more than 96% of Iowa cities have a local option sales tax, according to the Iowa Department of Revenue. If voters in the five communities approve increasing the sales tax, Polk County would have five other incorporated cities – Ankeny, Farrar, Granger, Mitchellville and Norwalk – that don’t charge the 1-cent tax, according to data from the revenue department.

The Ankeny City Council in May discussed putting the issue before voters in August but a majority opposed it, city spokeswoman Amy Baker wrote in an email. Officials have not discussed the issue since, she wrote.

Bondurant, Clive, Grimes, Johnston and Urbandale officials say their residents already pay the 1-cent tax when they shop in Dallas County and most other Polk County communities.

If voters don’t pass the tax, “we won’t be collecting it from visitors who come to Clive and spend money here,” Clive Mayor Scott Cirksena said. “We’re prepared to support public safety in Clive and the new public safety building. 

“If the sales tax isn’t passed, [the public safety building] is something our residents will have to pay for through their property taxes.”

The following shows how much revenue each community voting on Aug. 6 would receive from the 1-cent tax and how the money would be used, according to each city’s website:

Bondurant

Estimated annual amount will receive: $865,923.
Planned use of sales tax money: 60% of the money would be used to lower property taxes by about $1.95 per $1,000 of assessed valuation. The remainder would be used to pay for street improvements and other capital improvements including a library expansion, parks and trails.

Clive

Estimated annual amount will receive: $1.7 million.
Planned use of sales tax money: Property tax relief and a new public safety building. Clive officials have said that if the sales tax is not passed, residents would see their property rates increase 65 cents per $1,000 assessed valuation to pay for the 40,000-square-foot facility, estimated to cost $15.25 million. Money from the tax would also be used for street and greenbelt improvements and storm water management. 

Grimes

Estimated amount will receive:  $1.6 million. 
Planned use of sales tax money: Half of the money would be used to reduce property taxes. Officials estimate that the property tax rate would be reduced to $11.81 per $1,000 of assessed valuation from the current $12.81. The remainder of the money would be used to pay for a new library, fire station and park and trail improvements.

Johnston

Estimated amount will receive: $3.2 million.
Planned use of sales tax money: Half of the money would be used to reduce property taxes. Officials estimate the property tax rate would be reduced to $10.65 per $1,000 of assessed valuation from the current $11.65. Among the other things, the remainder of the money would be used to hire additional full-time police and firefighters, install security cameras at the library, develop a water trail along Beaver Creek, and improve streets and sidewalks.

Urbandale

Estimated amount will receive: $6 million. 
Planned use of sales tax money: At least half of the money would be used to reduce property taxes. The rest could be used to improve streets and parks and to pay for public safety facilities and stormwater management. 

Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Aug. 6. To find out your polling place, click here.

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