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Rich Paulsen - What’s Up

Tax Day is part of the reason it is tough to get ahead

There are a lot of great things about Iowa, but the tax structure and fees as of late are not one of them. Iowa has the 10th highest tax burden of all the states according to Wallethub.

People should begin to prepare themselves for even greater taxes and fees. None of our elected officials can seem to slow down the process on either the local, state or federal level. 

Resources

When I first moved here 20 years ago, we had some of the lowest rates in the state for electricity – not any more! If you haven’t noticed, Alliant is upping the electric rate another 11.7% and the gas rate is also taking a 25% on the base rate. Doesn’t sound like much, but it about another $17 per month for the average home.

Next is the water and sewer bill. Rates in Creston have gone up 20% last year and 45% this year. Plus your sewer rate is based on the amount of water you use. Our bill here at the CNA was over $100 last month for the first time ever. It use to run about $55. 

City

Be prepared for this one.

The $5 million spent on the new streets and local projects was well needed, but someone has to pay the price for years of neglect. Guess who gets the bill? Plus, the tearing down of the dilapidated building in downtown Creston added about another $1 million to the tax bill. Plus, the growing bill on pensions for the police and fire department that will only continue to go higher due to the under funding of the special IPERS group we are stuck in.

Here, again the tax ask in the future is not going to slow down.

County

The new communications system is going to add another addition to everyone’s tax bill. I hear lots of grumbling about putting up a new system that will probably be obsolete long before it’s paid for. Here, again, the cost of running a courthouse does not get any cheaper as time goes by.

I would guess the winter has not been kind to the county roads and they will eat up a lot of rock this summer trying to get them back to par. It is time to start thinking about consolidating courthouses in Iowa. Ninety-nine for our population is way too many. 

Schools

We spend more money on schools than any other country in the world, yet we rank 25th in science and 39th in Math according to the latest worldwide rankings.

The biggest part of property tax goes to schools, plus there are several different funds that can be used for other different parts of school spending. Also the Creston system is now getting part of their funds with income tax money that is now pulled out. Here again, the tax and fees will only continue to add to the tax burden.

Student debt is now larger than credit card debt by over a third. Think of what it would be if the tax payers weren’t picking up part of the bill by letting high school kids take classes from colleges while they are still in high school.

I know a number of kids that have a year of college paid for by the taxpayers by the time they graduate high school. Good for the student, bad for the rest of us taxpayers.

More

There are a lot of other things that are on the agenda. The City is talking about a possible bond issue for a pool, library and lake dredging.

These are all great projects, but at what cost?

I hear from a number of people that are on fixed incomes that are now having to make some rather tough choices. I’m not sure many of our elected officials think about that population much.

I also know high taxess are chasing people from this state. Property taxes get mentioned in many of those cases. Ask Illinois and New Jersey what is happening to their tax base with fewer people and businesses. Iowa is setting itself up to be in the same boat.

Many folks I know are headed out of Iowa when retirement hits and they take their money with them. 

Bottomline

Just be forewarned that taxes and fees are not going to get cheaper without some major changes in how government and entities operate.

What’s the old saying? If you do the same old thing, you are going to get the same old thing!

Happy tax day April 15.

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