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Letters to the Editor

Legislators should maintain local control of county budgets

From Rachel Bennett

Iowa State Association of County Supervisors

Legislation currently being considered by the Iowa Legislature would hinder the ability of local elected officials to make budget decisions to fund the programs and services their constituents depend on and desire. House File 773 would place an arbitrary 2% annual growth limitation on property tax revenue that a county or city could collect. Senate Study Bill 1260 would place the cap at 0% growth with the ability to go to 2% by resolution and 3% subject to reverse referendum. This one-size-fits-all limit does not consider the varying needs of Iowa’s 99 counties and their citizens.

Perhaps the result of limiting growth would be favorable to some property owners, but at what cost? We must consider what local governments provide with the funding from property taxes and how the programs and services benefit the taxpayer. Roads need to be repaired, bridges need to be maintained, criminals must be prosecuted and jailed and the courthouse should be adequately staffed to meet your customer service needs when transacting government business like renewing your driver’s license or applying for a marriage certificate. County supervisors know very well and take very seriously the fact that when they set budgets and property tax levy rates, they are asking their friends and neighbors to contribute financially for the good of the county and the beneficial services that the county provides to its residents.

Local budgetary decisions should remain local, with the elected officials that live and work in the communities they represent, not with legislators making statewide decisions. Supervisors know much better the needs and desires of their county, and if they fail in that charge, they stand for re-election every four years. Please ask your legislators to maintain local control, reject HF 773 and SSB 1260 and let county supervisors and city councilors make budget decisions that are right for their jurisdictions.

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