Kick the football, Charlie Brown!
It is the property taxpayer who has had the football pulled away from them. It is the taxpayer who repeatedly gets a black eye when they open their property tax bill.
This week, there was a public hearing for a simple bill, SF 181, that would provide a technical fix to correct an error in how multi-residential properties are taxed. As it stands now, those properties skew the formula and cause single-family homeowners to pay more.
Who could be against fixing an error and cutting property taxes a little?
Cities and counties that want to spend as much as they can, that’s who!
The public hearing was filled with city and county lobbyists defending their ability to tax homeowners more. Even more disturbing is the fact that local governments hire and pay those lobbyists with YOUR property tax dollars.
One said this was like Lucy yanking the football away from Charlie Brown. In a newspaper article, a city manager said it gives the city a black eye.
In recent years, property tax revenue collected by many local governments has grown faster than their community’s population and inflation.
Therefore, it is the property taxpayer who has had the football pulled away from them. It is the taxpayer who repeatedly gets a black eye when they open their property tax bill.
Iowans for Tax Relief was about the only voice speaking up for Iowa taxpayers.
This bill will not cut the total amount of revenue in city and county proposed budgets from the prior year. It will only reduce the amount they wanted to increase. The budget process is not finished yet. City councils and county supervisors still have options. They could:
- Increase the levy rate, increase property tax bills, and increase revenue
- Use existing cash reserves
- Make some difficult decisions and actually spend less
Interestingly, these local elected officials already consider their budget process complete and your money is in their bank account. They haven’t even taken it to the taxpayers and allowed them to weigh in. Public budget hearings are just now being scheduled. Visit your local government websites or call to find out when you can speak out.
What the legislature should NOT do.
But there’s more: local government’s idea to fix this problem is to instead have state general fund dollars make up the difference. Apparently, if they can’t collect this higher spending amount from property taxes, they ask instead to simply get a check from the state.
Thankfully, this amendment was defeated in the Senate, but ITR will stay vigilant to make sure that there are no more backfills to local government.
Enact long-term property tax solutions.
Legislators who are persuaded by and sympathetic to local elected officials need to make taxpayers and family budgets their priority. Lawmakers should consider long-term options for controlling the growth of property taxes:
While property taxes are frozen for existing properties, lawmakers should consider long-term options for controlling the growth of property taxes:
- Set stronger spending limitations.
- Close the honesty gap by “ratcheting-down” levy rates.
- Empower taxpayers with direct notification of tax increases.
- Tighten TIF and abatement usage.
- Maximize public input with November-only bond issue elections.
Senate File 181 Status (as of 2/11/23)
This bill passed the Iowa Senate 49-0 on Thursday, February 1, and passed out of a House Subcommittee 3-0 on February 8.