April 17, 2024

Resident questions tax levy letter

A portion of a sample tax levy information to be mailed from Union County to all property tax payers.

Union County Board of Supervisors and a resident discussed the mailing from the county last month to all property owners listing tax levies where their respective property is located.

Mike Morris, who said lives on Creston’s west side outside of city limits, said he wanted to make “better sense of the data” in the letter. “I’m not an expert. I see a lot of negative numbers and that gives me hope that perhaps next year the taxes won’t rise.”

Morris suggested further explanation of the information on the form to see more specifics.

“That form is very hard to understand and is not a reflection if your taxes will go up or down,” said supervisor Dennis Hopkins. Morris said he has also spoken with the county’s assessor’s office about the letter.

Morris said the levy rate is about 9% which he called high.

“Some of that tax stuff, the state doesn’t determine until October so we won’t even know for sure ourselves,” Hopkins said.

Morris suggested said additional information might help the landowner “sleep easier.”

County Auditor Sandy Hysell also admitted the form was not clear and will take feedback from residents to find ways to improve the notice in future years.

Supervisors encouraged Morris to meet with Iowa Senator Tom Shipley and Iowa Rep. Devon Wood about the letter since it was part of state legislation.

Morris said since 2019 his taxes have raised about 37 % cumulatively.

“We are paying over $1,000 a year more than we did three years ago,” he said. Morris said knowing the tax bill it makes him consider turning down donating to various other causes.

“We are having to save to pay our taxes and that is not right. I get taxes. We want good roads and services. But it seems we have reached the breaking point,” he said.

Morris was aware the county is only one taxing entity on the statement; including Greater Regional Health, school districts and others.

“I appreciate what you guys are doing. Keep charging,” he said.

The mailing is part of state legislation approved last year by Gov. Kim Reynolds. It was part of a ruling that caps levy rates for cities and counties. Cities will have a general fund levy, consolidated from 15 existing levies, capped at $8.10 per $1,000 in taxable value. Counties have a cap of $3.50 per $1,000 for general services and $3.95 for rural services.

Local governments are placed into three tiers based on their revenue growth with different formulas to determine how much of the excess revenue must be dedicated to lowering property taxes, and the process for bringing existing property tax rates down to those set maximums. For counties above the amounts, they have been suggested to incrementally lower the amount until 2029 when the law takes full effect.

The statement includes information regarding school, county and city proposed budget tax rates that are payable in September and March 2025 as well as information about scheduled public hearings regarding the proposed tax rates.

In other supervisor news...

In a related matter, the supervisors approved a public hearing for fiscal year 2025 budget at 10 a.m., April 22. Supervisors included the approved pay rates for elected officials in the fiscal year 2025 budget. The budget year begins July 1.

Supervisor Dennis Brown made the motion to give the auditor, recorder. a 4.5% percent raise plus an additional. $2,550 for fiscal year 2025. The sheriff, county attorney and board of supervisors each receive a 2.5% raise. Supervisor Rick Friday made the second and the motion unanimously passed.

The county’s compensation board suggested 6% for the sheriff and 4% for the attorney and board of supervisors. The compensation board also suggested 6% for the auditor, treasurer and recorder plus $3,000. Monday’s action also included $3,500 for auditor Hysell for her work on the fiscal year budget.

John Van Nostrand

JOHN VAN NOSTRAND

An Iowa native, John's newspaper career has mostly been in small-town weeklies from the Rocky Mountains to the Mississippi River. He first stint in Creston was from 2002 to 2005.