5 Things to Know About the LOSST Vote on March 6
On March 6, Polk County voters will have the opportunity to decide whether to implement a 1 cent Local Option Sales and Services Tax (also known as LOSST). If passed, the tax would be imposed on retail sales in Polk County effective July 1, 2018, and help fund projects throughout the region.
I encourage you to get out and vote on March 6. This vote will have major implications for the future of Greater Des Moines (DSM). To help inform you on your decision, here are five facts regarding the LOSST vote.
1. How much revenue would LOSST bring in?
It is estimated that about $80 million would be collected each year from the Polk County LOSST. That money will then be distributed back to individual cities and to Polk County government based primarily on population.
2. What will the money brought in through LOSST be used for?
Each community has its own ballot language and associated plans for using the sales tax revenue. Most cities plan to use up to half of the sales tax revenue to fund infrastructure. Many cities either have a large backlog of capital projects or growth needs that outpace revenue. If the LOSST replaces borrowing, the total cost of capital projects could be lower. If it replaces a debt service levy, it can stabilize property taxes. Some cities are proposing projects that simply could not be completed without a supplemental revenue source like LOSST.
Most cities in Polk County are proposing to dedicate at least half of the proceeds to property tax relief.
3. How could this help Polk County taxpayers?
As mentioned above, passage of LOSST will help fund important projects and help taxpayers save money on property taxes. Of note, it is estimated that at least 30 percent of the retail purchases in Polk County are made by non-residents, meaning that a significant portion of the revenues generated would come from visitors.
4. How common is this tax throughout the state?
A local option sales tax is currently in place in 97 of 99 Iowa counties. Polk and Johnson Counties are the only counties yet to pass one.
5. How can people vote?
It is important to vote. Check out this webpage to download information on polling locations in Polk County. In order to pass, LOSST must be approved by more than 50 percent of all voters in a large block consisting of all contiguous cities and the unincorporated area of Polk County.
The Partnership engages with local, state and federal officials to create public policy that generates economic growth, business prosperity and talent development in DSM. The Partnership is a nonpartisan organization. To learn more, click here.
Gretchen Tegeler is the president of the Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa. Tegeler was director of the Iowa Department of Management from 1990 to 1998, and also served as Governor Branstad's chief of staff. Before joining the Taxpayers Association she was vice president for Iowa with the American Cancer Society.