WAPELLO -- A draft resolution calling for a referendum in the city/school Nov. 7 election to establish a new local option sales tax in unincorporated Louisa County should be on their desks by next week, supervisors learned Tuesday.
Des Moines attorney John Danos attended the weekly Louisa County Board of Supervisors meeting by Zoom and said he could develop the resolution as soon as the supervisors finalized how the tax revenue would be used.
Danos is also assisting the cities of Columbus Junction, Grandview and Wapello on election resolutions. All of the local jurisdictions, except for Wapello, must hold a new vote to continue collecting the tax because of sunset clauses in the 2006-07 referendums that originally established the tax.
Wapello is holding its new vote because officials want to change the tax purpose to include allowing the city to use the money to build a new fire station. Danos had previously explained that holding a vote now on that possibility would allow the city to move forward with the plans without additional public hearings or public approval.
The other local jurisdictions where the tax was approved in 2006-07 did not include a sunset clause, meaning the tax will continue until voters decide to terminate it. Officials in those jurisdictions also have not indicated a need to change any of their original purpose statement.
One of the main purposes in the original referendums earmarked 50% of the tax revenue to construction of a new county jail, but all the bonds used for that construction have now been retired, meaning that purpose is now gone.
During Tuesday’s supervisors’ meeting, board members confirmed they did wish to include ambulance support and capital improvements to county buildings and property as specific purposes for the revenue. They also supported including a general statement that would allow the tax funds to be used for any other lawful purpose.
“We’re pretty much decided,” supervisor chair Randy Griffin told Danos.
He added that county auditor Sandi Sturgell has notes she could forward to Danos to develop the proper wording.
Danos said as long as the notes describe the ways supervisors intend to use the tax, he will craft language that gives the most flexibility within those purposes, he said. The board could tweak anything once it received his draft, he added.
Sturgell said language needs to be in her office by Aug. 2 to meet the election deadline.
“I will do my best with a decent starting point for you folks,” he said.
In other action, the board:
• met with general assistance director Cyndi Mears and received her monthly departmental update;
• signed an approval letter for a JSBB pork facility;
• agreed to sell a vacant lot west of the current public health office to ServPro for $25,000.
The board also met with public health administrator Roxanne Smith for her monthly departmental update. Smith said current COVID-19 numbers show 39.8% of the county’s population is fully vaccinated.
She also reported her office would handle testing kits and urged anyone who might be ill to ask someone else to pick up the kits or contact her office.
Smith and the board also discussed the planned move of her office to the County Complex. She said that move is set for the week of Sept. 20, assuming some last minute issues are resolved.