Oskaloosa residents continued a tradition of using their pennies to invest in the community and quality of life by passing the LOSST ballot measure May 3 with 61% voter approval. Revenue from the one-cent tax will be used for investments in a new recreation and early childhood education center, public streets, trails and associated infrastructure over the next 20 years.
“Residents have been indicating support for the recreation & early childhood education project and roads for over a year and a half,” said Oskaloosa Mayor Dave Krutzfeldt. “Tuesday’s ‘yes’ vote means we’ll continue to collect the penny tax for another 20 years, for investment in a new city building to serve area citizens from birth to age 100 by providing indoor recreation and early childhood education services.”
While the ballot measure passed in most areas of Mahaska County, residents in unincorporated Mahaska County and Fremont voted not to approve the one-cent sales tax on May 3, which means it is not collected or distributed in those areas of the county. The option tax revenue is distributed based on population to areas where the referendum was approved.
Option Tax History
The penny has been in existence since 1994 in Mahaska County and has been used to fund community facility improvements including the Law Enforcement Center, the Oskaloosa Public Library and construction of a new elementary school.
“The penny has been used by the community over the years to fund major capital investments that improve the quality of life for residents and help support the tax base,” said Krutzfeldt. “Using a sales tax penny means we avoid property tax increases while providing high quality facilities and services.”
Moving the Project Forward
The City of Oskaloosa will receive an estimated $11 million in revenue to be used on the project, based on population and approval of the measure. The Oskaloosa Community School District has pledged $7.5 million in capital funds using it’s SAVE penny which is restricted to facility infrastructure projects. The City of University Park, which approved the ballot by a 70% margin, has also pledged 10% of its penny toward the recreation and early childhood education center project.
The City will begin working immediately with the School District, and other stakeholders to begin refining plans for the recreation and early childhood education center project. The first step in the process will be to further understand the community needs and how they mesh with available resources.
“Voters approved renewal of the penny with the expectation we would pursue development of the center. We are committed to pursuing the project on behalf of area families,” said Tom Richardson, President of the School Board. “An estimated 320 children and 120 employers daily are depending on the early childhood education services,” he said.
“We recognize that employees and families are making choices on where to live based on community amenities and quality of life. They’ll choose to drive for work to have better amenities for their family to use during their free time,” Krutzfeldt said. “Continuing to use our pennies to invest in infrastructure, recreation, and education helps position us to be the community of choice.”