The Ottumwa Courier

November 15, 2012

LOST fails in rural Van Buren County

Courier correspondent

KEOSAUQUA — Property taxes on rural property may go up after the renewal of the local option sales tax (LOST) was defeated in the unincorporated areas of Van Buren County last week. The vote totals were 836 yes and 904 no.

According to Van Buren County Auditor Jon Finney, the money on the one-cent sales tax in the unincorporated areas was used to replace a portion of the property taxes which went for roads and accessing the county share of the farm-to-market money.

The four-year average receipts the county has been receiving from LOST that has been used for property tax relief is $291,400, according to Finney.

Based on the current year’s rural valuation, this amounts to $1.40 per $1,000 property tax levy equivalent, which will be increased to access the farm-to-market road use tax money.

It amounts to about a 4.5 percent increase on total taxes paid by each taxpayer in the rural areas according to the average total consolidated tax levy in the rural areas, Finney noted.

The 1 percent local option sales tax is set to expire June 30, 2013. If the public requests a special election and the state requires the voting machines that have been used in last week’s election, the cost of the election would be more than $7,000, according to Finney.

The sales tax proposal did pass in Cantril, Birmingham, Bonaparte, Milton and Stockport. Farmington renewed it in 2010 and Keosauqua’s does not sunset.  

If the unincorporated area sales tax lapses, then those businesses in those areas would charge a 6 percent sales tax and the rest of the county, 7 percent.