Cedar Rapids leaders make another attempt at penny tax extension - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Cedar Rapids leaders make another attempt at penny tax extension

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Cedar Rapids city leaders say they have a $300 million problem.

"I get calls from all across the city. People are upset about the condition of their streets," said Cedar Rapids city councilman Justin Shields.

The solution, they say, is extending a 1-cent sales tax for the next 10 years.

The tax, enacted in 2009, has produced more than $17 million each year for flood recovery projects. It's set to expire in 2014.

"It has paid huge dividends in our community," said Mayor Ron Corbett. "You can't drive around Cedar Rapids without seeing the positive results of that penny and the impact that had."

Attempts to extend the penny tax and use it for west side flood protection failed in 2011 and 2012.

The city is asking for a vote again this November. City officials are expecting resistance to the penny tax, once again.

Now, however, the city is shifting gears, saying all money generated from an extension will go toward road improvement projects.

"The voters have never been given the opportunity to use the penny 100 percent exclusively for streets, so this is actually a new plan, and a new idea for the voters to decide on," Corbett said.

It's not just Cedar Rapids that will benefit.

On Wednesday, mayors of Marion, Hiawatha, Fairfax, and Robins asked voters to keep the tax going- citing benefits to road projects and other infrastructure .

"This is a great benefit to the city of Hiawatha, there's no question about it," said Hiawatha Mayor Thomas Theis.

Officials say the penny tax is a better option than raising property taxes to pay for improvements.

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