116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS - A bill that would require voters to provide identification cards to cast ballots could cost Linn County residents more on their property taxes next year.
Linn County Auditor Joel Miller told the Linn County Board of Supervisors on Monday that House File 516, which calls for implementing the use of e-pollbooks with bar scanners, would force the county to buy more than $300,000 in new equipment that could cost an additional $70,000 a year to maintain.
Supervisor Brent Oleson said the added costs, which hadn't been budgeted, could push up the county levy by as much as 3 cents or more per $1,000 assessed valuation.
While it's too late to amend the county's fiscal year 2018 budget, which takes effect this summer, the increase could be seen next year, he added.
'We're already starting out next year with a 3 cent tax increase,” Oleson said. 'I want to account for this because it is a tax increase from the state legislature to us.”
The proposal is now with the state Senate.
If the Linn County Board of Supervisors on Wednesday approves the proposed FY 2018 budget at $6.14 per $1,000, it will lock in the fourth straight year of zero increase in the countywide levy rate. A 10 a.m. public hearing will be held at the Jean Oxley Building, 935 Second St. SW, before the vote.
'We worked hard to have a budget that reflects our priorities and at the same time was fair to taxpayers,” Oleson said.
However, H.F. 516 - which Miller referred to as an unfunded mandate and Oleson dubbed the 'Rizer Tax,” named for State Government Committee Chairman Ken Rizer, R-Cedar Rapids, who has been floor manager for the bill - could break that streak, Oleson said.
Secretary of State Paul Pate in January first proposed upgrades to the state's election systems to guard against fraud. Rizer said the use of technology such as e-pollbooks - currently used by 72 of the state's 99 counties - and other changes would make voting as easy as going through the express line at the supermarket.
Johnson County Auditor Travis Weipert, who also spoke at Monday's meeting, raised concerns the changes could disenfranchise voters who might not have the necessary identification to use e-pollbooks, which in turn could lead to lawsuits.
'The first time somebody is turned away from the polls, it's not the legislators who are getting sued, it's the county auditors,” Weipert said.
Weipert said Johnson County already is equipped with e-pollbook hardware, but staffing and related equipment upgrades will come at a cost to the county.
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