A little sunlight please

The recent reluctance by Marshalltown city officials to say that they would reduce their tax asking by the corresponding amount that they are currently contributing to the 911 commission is puzzling. Perhaps some clarification by those officials may be in order.

Over the last year, a task force has worked to create a new 28E agreement to fund the 911 personnel requirements. Currently, these costs have been funded with dollars from property taxes — 62 percent from the city of Marshalltown, and 38 percent from Marshall County.

This new 28E agreement would create a new independent commission to govern the joint emergency response communications services and facilities for law enforcement, fire, rescue, and emergency medical services for Marshall County. This new commission would be empowered to levy property taxes for the personnel needs. There would be an all new line item on tax statements entitled “Emergency Management Levy” for an amount which has been $937,922.

The amount Marshall County most recently has taxed then contributed is $356,410. The amount that the city of Marshalltown most recently has taxed then contributed is $581,512.

Marshall County officials have publicly stated that they will reduce their tax asking by what they currently contribute, which is $356,410.

Marshalltown city officials have not done that. They say that this reduced amount of spending ($581,512) will be the addressed in the new budgeting process. Nothing has been said about reducing the tax asking from the city by this amount.

The fact the city has not addressed how they plan to spend the $581,512 that apparently will be left in their budget leaves taxpayers wondering what their plans are for this extra money. That is because if Marshalltown officials continue to collect this $581,512 without spending it on emergency services, it is, in essence, a new increased tax on property owners.

While we understand there are needs the city has to continually fulfill, we think taxpayers deserve to know exactly how tax dollars are going to be spent.

It is our opinion that it is time for City Administrator Jessica Kinser and city officials to bring everything out into the sunlight and to explain exactly why they are reluctant to lower Marshalltown city taxes for something they will not in the future have to spend or to layout definitive plans on how they plan on spending that windfall.

Marshalltown taxpayers have traditionally supported numerous public projects and city needs in the past when those projects/needs have been fully explained by officials.

It is time for that explanation to taxpayers or for a promise to reduce the city budget by the $581,512.