West Union proposes 36% Property Tax Hike - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

West Union proposes 36% Property Tax Hike

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WEST UNION (KWWL) -- Home and business owners in West Union are facing a potential tax increase of 36% in 2011. City leaders said they need the funding to continue providing essential services.

"I don't know why its going up. It shouldn't! People pay too much in taxes to start out with," noted Dennis Wolff.

Wolff is one of many taxpayers in who are, let's say, not quite happy about a potential 36% property tax increase.

"This is the wrong time to be raising taxes with all the job loss," he said.

City Administrator Robert Vagts understands their concern.

"Nobody likes a tax increase. I don't, I'm a taxpayer as well," said Vagts.

But he points out, folks in West Union are used to paying some of the lowest taxes in Eastern Iowa.

"Over the past four years, it has been around the $11.33 level. There was a slight increase, and it came back down. So for the past two years we've been at $11.33, and with the proposed budget we're going to $15.45. Which, if you're comparing it to current levies in this fiscal year, that would put us in the middle of the pack," said Vagts.

With the proposal, city leaders are asking the community to invest in itself. A good chunk of the revenue from property taxes will help pay back a bond for the town's multi-million dollar Green Pilot Streetscape Project.

"Part of that was a $2.665 million bond initiative that happened last October. And the result of that is obviously a large increase in property tax," said Vagts.

The streetscape project is part of the reason for the tax hike, but it's not the only reason. Vagts said, it simply costs more to run a city now than it did a few years ago.

"Our snow removal, we did budget $4 a gallon for fuel across the system here in the city. So your street department, police department, are fuel consumers. And we have to look at higher fuel prices this year," he explained.

Vagts is hoping to help taxpayers understand why their taxes are increasing by holding town hall meetings on Friday, February 25. Wolff said, he'll attend, but he's pretty sure he won't like what he's going to hear.

"Like the Price is Right, lower, lower, lower!" he remarked.

Friday's town meetings start at 7:00 AM at the Town House Cafe. The meetings then head to Steege's Pharmacy at 9:00 AM, Tap't Out at 10:00 AM, and wrap up at the West Union library from 1:00-6:00 PM. The town's Chamber of Commerce and Main Street director, Robin Bostrom, will also take part in the library portion of the meetings.

Online Reporter: Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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