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Friday, February 24 legislators, supervisors, and auditors from across district 9 came together to voice their strong opposition to Senate File 356.
In overview, Senate File 356, formerly SSB1124, is a proposal which creates a link between taxable valuations and levy rates.
When taxable valuations go up levy rates adjust down via an inflationary adjustment based on where your levy rate is.
New construction and revaluation growth are not excluded from the limitation formula, meaning they can trigger a reduced levy rate for the subsequent year.
In brief overview, several levies are aggregated into a new Combined General Fund Levy (CGFL) and then adjusted based on valuation growth.
Each year, if a city’s taxable valuation grows by more than either the 2.5% or 3.25% threshold (depending upon whether its current CGFL is above, at, or below $8.10), it follows a formula to adjust its CGFL for the subsequent budget year.
SF 356 includes a reduction of 30% for General Corporate Purpose bonding limits based on population-based thresholds.
These thresholds and limits can be found in 384.24A (4). This bill adds new reporting requirements to the Annual Financial Report.
This bill also limits the city’s ability to appeal to the State Appeal Board for suspension of levy limitations for certain reasons to natural disaster purposes only.
Several local officials have voiced their opposition to this measure, as they claim it will have a damaging effect on local economies.
Their grievances are spelled out in the following statement against the bill.
“We submit our strong disapproval on proposed SF356, formerly SSB1124, and potential devastating negative impact on counties thereof.
In Ringgold County, we have exceeded the $3.50 general basic levy limitation due to low growth within the county for the past seven years, averaging $4.40.
A Bureau of Labor Statistics inflation calculator states that $3.50 in January of 1985 is $9.33 in January of 2022, clearly showing the levy is not keeping up with demand.
Our overall county levy remains constant due to fiscally responsible decisions made locally, while still providing the services Ringgold County residents need and expect.
This bill does not promote growth in communities across Iowa.
Rather, it restricts the ability to capture new revenue from potential growth.
Construction is our new revenue stream.
Without that, 103.25% growth limitation is not effective in keeping up with inflation nor realistic to current mandated county functions set by the state.
Implementation of this bill will require cuts to the county budget totaling more than $400,000, ultimately requiring a reduction in services and staff.
In Ringgold County, this dollar amount equals two entire departments.
Ringgold County already operates at the bare minimum with staff.
This bill would require a reduction in office hours, reduction in workforce at the Sheriff’s Office, reduction in the county parks program and will require the county to eliminate the contributions made to the County Fair, MATURA, Southern Iowa Council of Governments, youth education programs, Development Corporation, and the Historical Society.
This bill goes against local control to its core.
If residents have a concern with the amount of tax they are paying, those concerns can be expressed at the two required budget hearings held, prior to final approval.
Residents can also attend the open board meetings, held every Monday.
Additionally, elections are held every two years if they continue to be unsatisfied with the job performance of their elected officials.
Counties are already struggling to financially provide essential services to the residents of our counties; this bill further impedes their ability to just sustain services.
Ringgold County Board of Supervisors Colby Holmes, Steve Knapp and Randy Taylor, Ringgold County Auditor Amanda Waske”
Joining the Ringgold County Board of supervisors, and Auditor in Opposition to this bill are: Montgomery County Auditor Jill Ozuna, Adams County Auditor Becky Bissell, Union County Auditor Sandy Hysell, Senator Tom Shipley, Representative Devon Wood, Montgomery County Supervisor Mike Olson, Adams County Supervisor Bobbi Baker-Maynes, Representative Ray “Bubba” Sorensen, Representative Tom Moore, Montgomery County Supervisor Donna Robinson, Cass County Supervisor Steve Baier, Adams County Supervisor Chris Standley, Union County Supervisor Rick Friday, and Adams County Supervisor Leland Shipley