Letters to the Editor
The Iowa Legislature should fully fund the backfill. In 2013 state law was changed to reduce the amount of taxes that local government get from commercial and industrial properties. The backfill is a reimbursement from the state to local governments for this loss. The total payment for the current fiscal year was over $152 million, of which $431,058.42 went to Winnebago County, $195,318.93 went to cities in Winnebago County, and $182,399.06 went to schools in Winnebago County. These reimbursements help ensure local governments aren’t forced to drastically increase property taxes on your home or farm, or to make cuts to the services you depend on.
Despite Governor Reynolds’ full funding of the backfill in her proposed budget, there are currently two pieces of legislation before the Iowa Legislature that would phase-out or greatly reduce funding for the backfill. Both bills are troubling for many reasons. First, the taxable value of commercial and industrial property hasn’t even returned to the levels from before the legislation was implemented, so if the backfill is significantly reduced or eliminated, counties will be receiving less tax revenue than they did five years ago. Second, both plans call for reductions far too rapidly for most counties to absorb without significant property tax increases or reductions in services. Third, the phase out begins in FY 2019, and counties have already set their budgets for FY 2019, so this would force immediate budget amendments to raise property taxes or cut back on services.
As Winnebago County works to continue to provide the high quality local services that you deserve and depend on, we want to do so without putting the burden on you—local property tax payers. We will continue to urge our legislators to back the backfill, and we encourage you to join us. Please ask your legislators to support the Governor’s proposal and to fulfill its commitment to replace their reductions from commercial and industrial property tax revenue.
Winnebago County Auditor
Our monopoly energy utilities in Iowa are pushing legislation at the statehouse that would hurt ratepayers across the state. Senate File 2311, which has passed out of the Iowa Senate and could be voted on by the Iowa House any day, prioritizes monopoly utility profits and would lock in those profits at the expense of us ratepayers.
Among other things, this would: slash effective and affordable energy efficient programs; deregulate oversight from the Iowa Utilities Board and the general public on expensive new power plants and on utilities’ ability to raise rates; and pre-approve and allow eminent domain on any new natural gas pipeline in Iowa.
At a time when solar prices are plummeting and we can power our communities with renewable energy, these monopoly energy utilities are attempting to tighten their stranglehold on energy in the state. We know definitively that energy efficienty is the cheapest way to pay for energy, and has created 20,000 good paying, local jobs in Iowa, but our monopoly energy utilities are trying to prevent their ratepayers from using less energy and saving money in order to ensure their billions in profits.
Please contact your state representative and Governor Reynolds to oppose Senate File 2311 and any attempt to undermine energy efficiency programs in Iowa. We need more energy efficiency that benefits more people, not less.
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement