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From Sen. Brad Zaun’s newsletter:

Were you in shock when you opened up your new property tax assessment? Higher assessment means higher tax bill for you. Few issues raise the ire of Iowans quite like runaway property tax increases.

I have received more emails and calls this session than any other issue! Because of the structure of Iowa’s property tax laws, an increase in the value of a property can yield significant increases in property tax payments even without any action by elected officials at the local level to increase tax rates.

As a result, property taxes for Iowans have more than doubled in the last 18 years. Meanwhile, income for those same people has risen only 43% over that same time period. Clearly this rate of increases is unsustainable.

A plan was released this week to control the growth, improve transparency, and increase accountability of property tax increases. Under Senate Study Bill 1260, when valuations on property rise, the levy rate for cities and counties automatically adjusts so the property taxpayer pays the same tax as they did the previous year.

Local governments can raise revenue up to 2 percent from the previous year and 3 percent with a supermajority of their members, but those officials now must actively vote on that increase at a public hearing instead of passively spending the windfall from increased valuations.

Elements of this plan have been effective in controlling property tax increases in many other states including New York and Utah. Despite claims to the contrary, this bill will not affect any pension payments from local governments nor affect their ability to service their debt. This change controls property tax increases, improves transparency in property tax collections, and increases accountability on the local level for rapidly rising tax rates.