116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
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Voters in the seven-city metro block, including Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities, and in the rest of Linn County are being asked this fall to reauthorize a one-cent local option sales tax for roads, infrastructure and other uses. We urge those voters to vote yes.
In the metro block, including Cedar Rapids, Marion, Hiawatha, Robins and Fairfax, the current tax, passed in 2013, provides more than $30 million annually. A majority of voters in the block must vote yes to keep the tax in place for an additional 10 years.
Turning off the sales tax spigot now would be a mistake.
Cedar Rapids has used the tax for its Paving for Progress program, which has pumped $122 million into more than 200 streets projects. More work is still needed, and sales tax dollars allow the city to make road repairs without relying on bonded debt.
Marion has used its annual $6.4 million annual share to fund roads and community projects, such as the new north side fire station, the YMCA, an expanded uptown public library and improvements on arterial roads and related sewer and storm water projects.
Hiawatha has used 10 percent of its tax take for property tax relief and the rest for “any lawful purpose,” including debt retirement, water and sewer projects and an expanded library. Fairfax purchased a new firetruck, snowplow and parks upgrades. Robins spent local-option proceeds on sewer and water infrastructure.
Linn County, where residents outside the metro block voting separately on the tax, has spent tax dollars on road projects, conservation efforts and property tax relief.
The tax was first approved by a wide margin, and we expect it to be approved again. The impact of the local tax on local needs is clearly apparent and positive. From the quality of roads to the quality of life, the sales tax has helped municipalities tackle projects that otherwise would have been delayed or discarded.
We understand misgivings expressed by those who see the sales tax as regressive, with its burden falling hardest on low-income people. But with a state government that’s worked to put limits on cities’ ability to fund functions and projects, the local-option tax is one funding tool still available.
Turning off the sales tax spigot now would be a mistake. As our national leaders bicker over infrastructure needs, Linn County communities are making progress with the help of local voters.
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