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Hold elected representatives accountable

Upon receipt of our property tax bill due 2020/21, we were shocked at a 20 percent increase. This, while corn, soybean, and cattle prices have been decreasing; a derecho struck and caused damage to crops, trees and structures in Marshall County; and we continue to suffer under the impact of the pandemic.

We contacted Dean Fisher, state representative; Dave Thompson, county supervisor; and Jarrett Heil, county treasurer to find out what was going on. Please understand we are not large farmers.

We understand while the Iowa Valley Community College bond may have been represented as “not changing your taxes” it did. For us, it meant additional $423.30/year of taxes. The impact on constituent’s tax bills was misrepresented.

We found 50 percent of our property taxes go to the West Marshall School District and these increased by $888.50. School administration and board members like to promote bond issues as “will only add $xx/year to the average State Center homeowners’ tax bill.” However per the Marshall County Treasurer’s office, 51 percent of the property taxes paid to the WMSD are from agricultural land taxes. It is time our school district reported how much each bond issue or increase in spending will increase farm taxes since that is who pays the majority of property taxes received by WMSD. Our tax bill showed an increase of 12 percent in spending by WMSD; it is time for transparency on the part of school administration and board. Board members need to be talking with people they represent and remember not all of their constituents reside in the towns in this school district.

Third, and the largest contributor to the increase in the tax bill was the increase in ag land rollback. This is the responsibility of our state legislature and must be addressed by our senator and representatives at the 2021 legislative session. The rollback increased by 25.4 percent, meaning ag land previously been taxed at $56.10/$100 of valuation is being taxed at $81.05/$100 of valuation. While assessments may have dropped this means an increase in most agricultural property taxes.

It is time to hold elected representatives accountable for more transparent accounting and increased awareness of economic situations of their constituents. This is not based on political party; this is based on listening to those you serve. Do you hear us WMSD school board members? WMSD administration? Elected legislators?

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