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Penny Tax Increase Back On The Ballot In Several Polk County Cities

A one-cent local sales tax took effect in Des Moines in July. Now the issues is going back before voters in neighboring communities.
City of Des Moines
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A one-cent local sales tax took effect in Des Moines in July. Now the issue is going back before voters in neighboring communities.

Residents in five Polk County cities will vote Tuesday on whether to raise their local sales tax by a penny. Urbandale, Grimes, Johnston, Clive and Bondurant will vote on the local option sales tax for the first time since it was approved in Des Moines and several suburbs in March.

In the past, neighboring cities had to approve the increase at the same time but that’s no longer the case, according to Clive Assistant City Manager Pete De Kock.

“The big difference of this vote is that now, if the Clive voters in the Polk County portion of the city approve it, then the city of Clive will benefit from those taxes and in many cases these are taxes that are already being paid by Clive residents,” De Kock said.

Local sales taxes are pooled at the county level and then redistributed to participating cities based on population and property taxes.

De Kock estimates that if Clive adds the sales tax, its share of revenue would be about $1.7 million. Half of that would go toward property tax relief. De Kock said it's enough that it would offset a 65-cent property tax increase to help finance a new public safety center.

The five communities together would collect an estimated $13.4 million in revenue. The vast majority of Iowa communities charge the one-percent local sales tax.

Grant Gerlock is a reporter covering Des Moines and central Iowa