Increasing property tax transparency
ITR President Chris Ingstad and two ITR members spoke in favor of HSB 165, a property tax reform bill, at a House subcommittee meeting this week.
The property tax reforms proposed in HSB 165 will:
- Set a reasonable limit for revenue growth of cities and counties
- Allow an override of that limit by local governments after a transparent process of notifications, public hearings, and vote by elected officials
- Permit citizens to call for a vote of the people if they disagree with the budget passed by their local government
Kendall Kruse from Huxley said, “The swift rise in taxes have me concerned that if my wife and I were to purchase a home tomorrow, how long will it be until we can no longer afford to live there due to tax bills rising faster than our yearly cost of living?”
Urbandale resident Jim Fitts said his property taxes have doubled since 1993. “There are a lot of people in this state that are old like I am — I’m an old guy — but they can’t afford the taxes they’re paying and that, to me, is criminal.”
Kendall and Jim are correct; increased assessments have put property tax increases on autopilot. Iowa does have some property tax protections in place, but these protections aren’t effective at keeping property tax bills in check, and property taxes have become unaffordable for too many Iowans.
Ingstad informed the subcommittee members that, “Thirty-five states have some sort of local budget limit in place already. Those states have shown that if local governments want to exceed the growth cap, voters might be willing to pay for it when the case is made to them, either on the ballot or through a process of hearings. It’s the transparency of tax increases that is important; ensure that an open conversation occurs between local government and local citizen.”
Iowa needs property tax reform that controls the growth of local government and increases transparency and citizen input in that process. We will keep you updated on HSB 165 as it now moves to the full House Ways and Means Committee.
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