County Approves New LOST Language

MAHASKA COUNTY – Continuing a long journey with the Local Option Sales Tax vote, the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors has passed another resolution to keep the revenue from the tax alive for unincorporated interests.

“Last Thursday morning, was filed in our office a petition for the extension of the Local Option Sales Tax,” said Sue Brown, Mahaska County auditor.

“It has the required number of signatures needed, so it is a valid petition.”

The petition was unanimously accepted, and the board moved right into ballot language.

“I know we have some time to approve the ballot language, but obviously we’ve been talking about this for quite some time,” said Vice Chair Mike Vander Molen. “So I figured we might as well have the discussion now and see if we can come to a consensus to approve the ballot language for the November election for the unincorporated area of the county.”

The new resolution authorizes the continuance without repeal of the local sales and services tax in the unincorporated area of Mahaska County at the rate of 1 percent to be effective until Dec. 31, 2036. Revenues from the sales and services tax, under the new language, would be allocated as follows:

• 80 percent for maintenance, reconstruction or construction of county roads and bridges;

• 20 percent for construction of a County Conservation Center that provides learning opportunities for all county residents and that houses and displays recently discovered mammoth bones in Mahaska County. Any surplus funds shall be used for maintenance, reconstruction or construction of county roads and bridges.

• 0 percent for property tax relief.

The language that went on the last ballot in May was voted down by rural voters, as many wished to see more money spent on roads and little or no money spent on a proposed early childhood and recreation center project. The old ballot language allocated 40 percent of the penny tax money to the construction of a recreation and early childhood education facility; 40 percent for roads; and 20 percent to the proposed Environmental Learning Center.

In the new ballot language, any funds regarding the childhood and early recreation center are absent.

Considerations and comments during this portion of the meeting mostly centered around the Environmental Learning Center and how the language may affect its future funding needs, as the new language states that surplus funds from the conservation center would go to roads.

“If we don’t have the money for building maintenance,we would have to come and ask for budget increases later on if we have to maintain the building,” said Dave Sedivec of the Mahaska County Conservation Board. “That’s just the reality of it.”

Although the board has until August to approve the language, Vander Molen made a motion to approve the new language listed above. Supervisor Mark Doland seconded the motion and so it passed. However, Chair Henry W. Van Weelden did not agree with the language, leaving the final vote at 2­1.

“I’d like to see maybe a little more of that 20 percent go towards maintenance reserve for that conservation building, similar to what we have with the jail,” said Van Weelden.

By not only amending the ballot language, but by also adding an extension into the mix, this keeps the county eligible for Local Option Sales Tax funds in the next calendar year.

This new language is slated to appear on the ballot during the next scheduled election in November.

During the meeting held yesterday, the board also approved courthouse restroom use for the Rollin’ Oldies show on July 30, but stated they will not do so again next year. A computer maintenance agreement with Solutions Inc. was also approved, along with the appointment of Ted Smith to the Veterans Affairs Commission. Two 28E agreements with Fremont and University Park regarding the use of sheriff department services was approved, and a request to make law enforcement center updates was also approved by the board. Finally, a haul­road damages agreement was agreed upon and signed, as County Engineer Dave Shanahan stated that the pipeline representatives told him they would not sign the contract Mahaska County had offered as they felt it was “too constrictive” and “unfair to them.”

Story provided by  Herald Editor Hailey Brown


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