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LOST ballot reworded

By Staff | Jun 19, 2008

The Estherville City Council met in special session Wednesday morning to discuss and possibly reword the ballot for the Local Options Sales Tax issue going before voters on Aug. 26.

The council had previously approved a resolution calling for a public referendum to establish a Local Option Sales and Service Tax in the city at a 1 percent rate.

The resolution includes the following stipulations. “Sixty percent of said local option sales and service tax to be allocated for new and continuing community betterment programs and projects, and 40 percent for support of the police department, fire department, street department, library, parks, recreation and senior citizen activities.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, council was informed that the ballot is not in compliance with Iowa Code because there is no mention of what amount is being allocated for property tax relief.

The matter demanded immediate attention because the sample ballot needs to be published by next week in order for the August election to occur.

Woodley said that even if the amount is zero, it must be stated, according to the code.

Section 423B.1 in the Local Option Taxes chapter reads, “The ballot proposition shall also specify the approximate amount of local option tax revenues that will be used for property tax relief and shall contain a statement as to the specific purpose or purposes for which the revenues shall otherwise be expended.”

It was Woodley’s opinion that to use a zero percent for property tax relief is a negative point. “This isn’t accurate either.”

In essence, the 40 percent of the amount would be a form of relief as it offers support for various city departments.

Mayor Lyle Hevern said, “Voters have their minds made up before voting so it is important to educate them before the election.”

It appeared to be the general consensus the city cannot establish any percentage for under the specific property tax relief heading.

By unanimous vote, the council approved the motion to amend the resolution calling for ballot wording – “O percent to be allocated for property tax.