Mahaska County went to the polls on Tuesday regarding a number of issues, but none more visible than the renewal of the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST).
The vote was a major topic of discussion at many city and county meetings from the ballot language to the process itself.
This renewal was necessary for the proposed $24.1 million Recreation and Early Childhood Education facility. The City of Oskaloosa was pledging 75 percent of its LOST money per year to the project, but the group leading the planning, One Mahaska, stated that the county needed to kick some money in as well to make the project a reality.
After months of debate, the Mahaska County Board of Supervisors approved ballot language for unincorporated areas that gave 40 percent to the facility, 40 percent to secondary roads, and 20 percent to the Environmental Learning Center.
On Tuesday, the county and city remained split on the issue, as Oskaloosa passed its ballot language, 885-562, and the unincorporated areas overwhelmingly voted against it, 308-1,498.
Although this ballot language failed, the Supervisors will have an opportunity to go through the process again and have a special election prior to the expiration of the current LOST on January 1, 2017.
The ballot language for the Oskaloosa LOST can be adjusted for “any legal purpose,” which means the money can be collected and used for additional funds for roads, infrastructure, or any items that the City Council deem necessary.
Fremont was the only other jurisdiction that failed to renew the LOST, 33-34. Fremont had dedicated 10 percent of their ballot language towards the recreation facility in Oskaloosa as well.
Barnes City, Beacon, Eddyville, Keomah Village, Leighton, New Sharon, Rose Hill, and University Park all passed their ballot language for the LOST.
In other votes on Tuesday:
- James Blomgren was running unopposed for County Attorney and received 2,833 votes. Only 56 votes were against for write-in candidates.
- Rose Hill voted Robert Wells to their vacant City Council position, defeating Rick Newcomb, 21-6.
- New Sharon voted Wesley White to their vacant City Council position. White ran unopposed, getting 131 votes against just 3 write-in votes.
(The scene at the Mahaska County Courthouse as the results started to come in for the Local Option Sales Tax)
We will have continuing coverage of the Local Option Sales Tax around the county on KBOE Radio and on kboeradio.com.