L.O.S.S.T. vote coming soon - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Supporters, critics make points heard leading up to L.O.S.S.T. vote


An important vote in Cedar Rapids is just days away.

Next Tuesday voters will go to the polls to determine if Cedar Rapids one cent option sales tax will be extended for ten years.

City leaders say the tax is crucial to funding flood protection on both sides of the river.

Paul Larson of Cedar Rapids says he will vote no against the tax extension.

"There's been a lot of misinformation, little information on the formula of tax distribution and how that affects all of us in Linn County," Larson said.

Larson says he's concerned people are not fully aware of what they are voting for.

Since it's an economic tax at stake, voters in neighboring cities vote together in spite of being focused on different issues.

So passing the tax extension in Cedar Rapids means using its revenue for flood protection, where as passing the extension in Marion means that city's share will be used primarily for road improvements. Yet the revenue is coming from the same pool.

"People should take their time voting so they know the full scope of where their money is going and whether they approve of that," Larson said.

The state of Iowa collects revenue from the sales tax to be distributed to the cities within a particular county based on a formula heavily weighted on a city's population and property valuations.

If the tax passes Tuesday, Cedar Rapids will bring in 58 percent of the money generated from the tax in Linn County, unincorporated Linn County will bring in 16 percent, Marion will bring in 15 percent, and Robins, Fairfax, and Hiawatha take their shares of the remaining 11 percent.

"Those are the rules and I'm sure the government builds those formulas based on the amount of money those cities are putting in, so in the long run, everyone's going to get their fair share," said Gary Ficken, chair of the campaign committee for CREST, which supports an extension.

Ficken believes the tax is the most fair and effective way to pay for flood protection in Cedar Rapids.

"It's a good way to do it.  The other choices are property taxes or franchise fees.  This one kind of spreads the burden a little bit," he said.

If passed, the measure would extend the current local option sales tax in effect beyond its expiration date of 2014 to 2024.

Supporters estimate the tax will bring in around $20 million per year for Cedar Rapids.


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