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Greetings from the Capitol. We are entering into the final stretch of this session. This past week Iowans received their new property tax assessments, which has made property taxes the main topic of conversation at the Capitol from my perspective.Property owners are rightly fearful of what the future holds for their tax burdens. This conversation on the local level will generally result in finger-pointing and frustration. Many local government officials may point you to assessors and say you should have a conversation with them. This may be the right conversation to have if you feel your assessment higher than market value.Fortunately, there are avenues to contest your assessment and you should use them. This year I am guessing we will see a record number of protests. SF445 that was just signed by the governor should help with this demand. It allows 10 member boards of review to meet in groups of at least 3 to hear assessment protest.When you talk to the assessor, generally they will point the finger to who is spending your property tax dollars. At the end of the day, they are right! The following is the breakdown of where your property tax dollars are spent in Boone for example:

  1. Boone School District- 45.94%
  2. City of Boone- 37.88%
  3. Boone County- 8.74%
  4. Boone Hospital- 4.37%
  5. DMACC- 1.64%
  6. County Assessor- 1.08%
  7. County Ag Extension- .391%
  8. TB & Brucellosis- .006%

Ultimately those entities are responsible for the amount you are taxed and they will spend. In light of the current situation where your assessments are skyrocketing, the levy that determines how much you pay of your assessment can and should be lowered. My hope is that we can develop property tax reform that reflects how your state tax dollars are handled, which is when there is unexpected growth in revenue that those dollars are used to control your tax burden. That is how we are able to cut your income taxes and there is no reason this can’t be the same way your property tax burden can be managed as well.This year the legislature approved $127 million in new K-12 education funding, totaling over $3.5 billion. Every year K-12 schools receive the largest appropriation and the largest increase in appropriation. K-12 schools also are the largest single cost driver of property tax increases. As you can see from the chart above, while cities and counties drive some increase in property taxes, the principle cost driver is schools. Readers may want to consider communicating their concerns regrading the increased assessment with their school board members in addition to their supervisors and city councilors.If your school continues the property tax blame game by pointing their fingers at Des Moines for not being able to lower their levy, my hope is this newsletter will help give you clarity on what’s really happening.

Author: Jesse Green


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