Last week, Polk County voters narrowly shot down a proposal for a one percent local option sales tax. It was a special election and voter turnout was low. The Polk County Auditor estimated that only 10 percent of registered voters participated.
Two days later on March 8th, the Iowa House passed HF 2369, by a 52 to 44 vote. The bill requires elections for bond propositions for cities, townships, counties, or school districts, as well as, propositions for a local option sales tax to be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November when elections are normally held.
State Representative Jake Highfill (R-Johnston) was the floor manager for HF 2369 when it was debated last week. He said he believed the bill would solve three problems with when these elections are held.
The bill would allow only a vote on a particular bond proposal or local option tax once a year. Highfill also told Caffeinated Thoughts that he believes the bill will save taxpayers money. He is also concerned about transparency and voter participation.
“It will increase turnout and stop (local boards) from hiding elections from the people,” Highfill said.
The bill was referred to the Iowa Senate State Government committee on Monday.
A number of groups and cities oppose the bill: Rural School Advocates of Iowa, Urban School Advocates of Iowa, School Administrators of Iowa, Iowa Association of Community College Trustees, City of Des Moines, Western Iowa Tech Community College, Kirkwood Community College, North Iowa Area Community College, City of Coralville, Iowa Valley Community College District, Iowa League of Cities, City of Iowa City, City of Waukee, Iowa State Association of Counties, Iowa State Association of County Supervisors, Iowa Association of School Boards, and the City of West Des Moines.
The City of Cedar Falls supports the bill. Polk County Board of Supervisors and the City of Cedar Rapids have registered undecided.