The Ottumwa Courier

Local News

November 9, 2012

Eldon loses out on LOST

Eldon mayor: Voters may not have understood ballot language about revenue-sharing measure

ELDON — Without LOST, Eldon’s mayor fears her community may be “lost” in finding much-needed revenue.

“I am disappointed,” said Mayor Shirley Stacey. “I think we had some uninformed voters. And the ballot [was] somewhat confusing when you turned it over.”

Of all the communities in Wapello County voting this past Tuesday on whether or not to extend the one-cent Local Option Sales Tax, Eldon voters narrowly rejected the measure, according to unofficial results.

The current measure allows for the one-cent sales tax through Dec. 31, 2013. Every other municipality in Wapello County and the unincorporated areas of the county agreed to extend the tax another 10 years.

That means, unless the city calls for another election and the measure passes, effective Jan. 1, 2014, the sales tax on taxable goods in Eldon will drop from 7 to 6 percent. But when people from Eldon go shopping anywhere else in Wapello County, Stacey said, they will pay that extra penny, which goes into a large, countywide pot of money.

“We have to go someplace else [besides Eldon] to buy clothing, appliances, groceries.”

The people of Eldon shopping in Ottumwa pay the extra one cent, which is then shared by every community in the county — except for the residents of Eldon.

The mayor said she doesn’t like the sound of that. Why should they be excluded? She said it’s especially frustrating to see the LOST measure lose by only two votes.

“Some people I spoke to didn’t even flip over the ballot. On 86 ballots, they didn’t vote on the measure at all,” she said.

Wapello County Auditor Kelly Spurgeon said unlike some payments around the county, her office does not distribute the money brought in by the one-cent sales tax.

For guidance, she refers to the Iowa Department of Revenue web page. There is a formula to determine how much each town gets but in general, it works like this: A town will not simply receive “tax collected by merchants in the locality.”

Instead, the local option tax collected within a county is placed in a special distribution fund. The fund is distributed to each local community on the basis of population and property tax levies.

This is not a new tax. The current LOST is generating revenue. It was the renewal that failed, meaning Eldon will stop sharing the revenue at the end of 2013.

“Our town would totally be lost. It’s [more than] $92,000 we get off of this every year,” Stacey said. “Without it, we’d just be in big trouble. Our fire department, our police department, the streets, they’d all be affected. We may have to go to shorter hours at City Hall.”

The money, dropped right into the general fund, is a large amount for the town of 1,000 people. When something crops up unexpectedly, the mayor said, the City Council knows there may be some LOST money coming in.

“Let me give you an example,” Stacey said. “We had a storm sewer collapse [recently], and had to close that [section] of the block. The bid to repair that is $13,000. That money is going to come from the current Local Option Sales Tax. It’s nothing we planned for. But thank goodness we have that Local Option Sales Tax money, because otherwise, where would that money come from?”

People had already paid into LOST for the past 10 years, Stacey said.

“We have an option of having a special election with City Council permission. Then, the county auditor’s office would look ... at March for doing [the special] election. It’s the 1 percent of everything sold in Wapello County, no matter who buys it, and we would share in that.”

Maybe voters just need time to educate themselves, Stacey said. The mayor added she believes once Eldon residents are more informed on the issue, they will likely want a chance to vote again on whether or not they want their piece of the LOST pie.

Text Only
Local News
  • Silence continues on fatal shooting OTTUMWA — Law enforcement is exercising its right to remain silent about a shooting death that occurred south of town this week. The Wapello County Sheriff's Office, which had responded to the shooting, said most information on the case would now com

    July 25, 2014

  • 0726 OTT cedar creek Gone in a flash

    BLOOMFIELD — Bob Parker got about as close to lightning as you can Friday morning, and came out of it without injury. A line of thunderstorms started moving through southeast Iowa in the early morning hours. Parker was heading to work at about 7 a.m.

    July 25, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0724 OTT Tehel mug -T -M Resolution — Techel verdict reached

    DAVENPORT — The father of a slain Wapello County woman said he began to heal as soon as he heard the guilty verdict today. The jury unanimously pronounced Seth Techel, 23, guilty on charges of first-degree murder and non-consensual termination of a h

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0726 OTT Garden Bites III Color Photo -T Garden Bites sees growth BLOOMFIELD — Nearly one month ago, families gathered at Pioneer Ridge Nature Center to plant various vegetables to harvest and eat on Thursday at Garden Bites. The program allows families to get their hands a bit dirty at Pioneer Ridge and plant food

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0725 OTT Riverfront design A new outlook on Ottumwa OTTUMWA — A "River Renaissance" is brewing in Wapello County. Planners working for Christian Rushing Studio from Tennessee took the public's ideas, and gave them life via maps, numerical projections and artists' renderings. "Hold onto your seats; you

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Police to parents: check kids' online activities BLOOMFIELD — The Bloomfield police chief says the arrests of nine men in connection with sexting a teenage girl underscores the need for parents to keep an eye on their children online. Chief Shawn Armstrong said cases involving one or two people are

    July 24, 2014

  • 0725 OTT birthday rumble -T -M Age 106, still ready to rumble OTTUMWA — With the stories flowing, Celma Birdsall had the ride of her life Thursday. "She shared a lot of memories," said her chauffeur for the day, Dennis Parrish. Birdsall has built up a lot of stories over the 106 years she's been around. After h

    July 24, 2014 2 Photos

  • 0725 OTT College Connections color photo -T -M IHCC eases transition to college OTTUMWA — When choosing a college that's just right for you, it is important to find one that works its hardest to ensure your success as a student. Indian Hills Community College is doing just that this week with a College Connections Workshop spons

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • 0724 OTT Tehel mug -T -M Techel found guilty on both counts

    DAVENPORT — Jurors have found Seth Techel guilty in the 2012 murder of his wife, Lisa, and the couple’s unborn child.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Victim advocates: Helping families cope

    DAVENPORT — Family members of a slain Wapello County woman have someone to lean on — literally and figuratively — while they sit through a murder trial for the third time. Seth Techel, 23, is on trial in Scott County, Davenport. He faces charges of fi

    July 24, 2014

Photo reprints