An open discussion

Mark Eaton

Marshalltown

I would like to thank Ms. Kinser for her recent letter to the editor. I feel that all everyone involved is asking for is an open discussion on city matters. It is unfortunate that the council rules were changed last year to eliminate this type of “back and forth” discussion. Maybe this change should be rethought.

I did use data from a 2016 spreadsheet but as Ms. Kinser has pointed out there is no change in the data from 2016 to 2018 so the date on the spreadsheet data has no effect. Marshalltown is still in the top 8 percent of the highest taxed cities in the state.

I did point out that the “consolidated tax rate” is a taxpayer’s “total tax burden.” The list of taxes provided by Ms. Kinser does provide a clear picture of where our money goes and it is handy for FY2018, but it neglects to list the new 911 Commission levy for FY2019. Hopefully this was just an oversight. In her list of taxing entities, not only is the county lowering their taxes but so is IVCCD (Iowa Valley Community College District) per articles recently published in the Times-Republican. These reductions are greatly appreciated. Also, her list shows that the city and school district make up 80 percent of our tax burden (37 percent and 43 percent respectively). The city makes and controls TIF districts which withhold funds from the schools district and the county adding burden to both of their budgets. Placing the city first on the list does reflect their control over the other entities tax rates.

The city’s tax rate was $14.76257 in 2016. In 2017 and 2018, it was, and is, $15.28158. Holding the city’s rate the same for a third year, FY2019, has only been made possible by increasing sewer rates, increasing storm water run-off fees, asking the people for control of 100 percent of the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST), and shifting the cost of 911 employee wages and benefits to a separate taxing entity. This does not sound like progress too me.

I am not against Marshalltown’s success. I am not against Ms. Kinser, the mayor, or any council member. You all have very hard jobs. However, there must be open, honest and straight forward “back and forth” discussion on hard questions, especially on the budget. I applaud the T-R for supporting this open forum. I hope that the council can make changes to both the budget and the meeting rules.