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Local sales tax petition

In order to get the local option sales tax back on the ballot, Stockton's Mayor Patrick Baker will have to get 972 signatures on a petition or have the Muscatine City Council pass a motion to place it on the ballot. 

MUSCATINE — The future of the Stockton's local option sales tax will come before Muscatine City Council Thursday evening. This will be Stockton's best chance to get the local option sales and services tax on the ballot. 

The motion that will come before City Council stipulates that the tax will be added to the Nov. 6, 2018, General Election ballot just for the City of Stockton. The city would be solely responsible for any costs associated with holding the election. 

"Hopefully they approve it, and we can get it on the ballot to vote on in November," said Stockton's Mayor Patrick Baker. "I’m definitely going to be there Thursday in case they have any questions to ask. I’m going to make sure I have the budgets for the last couple of years and the money that the local option sales tax has contributed to it."

In fiscal year 2015, the city used the tax to raise as much as $20,000. But when no one from Stockton showed up to the March polls, the local option sales tax did not pass by default. Facing the loss of revenue, Stockton's mayor vowed to get it back on the ballot. 

In April, talks with Muscatine County Auditor Leslie Soule and Secretary of State Paul Pate revealed that Stockton had two chances to ways of making that happen:

One required a citizen to create a petition and get the signatures of 972 people, 5 percent of the number who voted for president in the last general election.

The other required the help of the City of Muscatine. It has more than 50 percent of the county's population, and therefore, council members could pass a motion to place it on the ballot.

According to Baker, he has spoken with Santos Saucedo, councilman at large.

"He asked me to explain our case to him," Baker said. "He was very positive towards it." 

Saucedo could not be reached by press time. 

While she thinks the voter turnout was a blunder, Nadine Brockert, councilwoman of Ward 4, said she does not see the City of Muscatine gaining anything by opposing the motion.

"They shouldn't have to suffer just because a mistake was made," Brockert said. "Since it doesn't cost Muscatine anything, why not let them."

Kelcey Brackett, councilman at large, said he's been following the local option sales tax troubles. 

"Basically, they thought that by being a part of the county it would just pass," Brackett said. "They didn’t realize that they actually had to have someone there locally to do it."

But he said he saw no reason to oppose the motion.

"I think it just speaks to the lack of information that gets disseminated to the public and even those elected officials," Brackett said. "I think that kind of speaks to part of our system that is broken, but I see no reason why they should be punished for that. I don’t see why one city should be left out of a local option sales tax that was passed countywide."

The Journal reached out to Phillip Fitzgerald, Osmond Malcolm, Tom Spread and Allen Harvey to see how they plan to vote on Stockton's local option sales tax, but they could not be reached by press time. 

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