Local sales tax shift would funnel more money into bridges, roads

A proposed shift in the distribution of tax money could provide much-needed repairs to bridges in the county.

Marshall County voters living outside Marshalltown could get the option to renew the local option sales tax in a special election. Tuesday morning, the Marshall County Board of Supervisors approved a resolution to call for the city to place the topic on a November ballot.

The local option sales tax is a 1 percent tax on goods and services sold in the county. The money collected goes toward property tax relief and repairing bridges, culverts and roads outside Marshalltown. Voters approved the tax in 2004, which is split evenly between the two areas, but the resolution expires in 2015. The new resolution would extend the tax until 2025, allocating 75 percent to road and bridge repairs and 25 percent for property tax relief.

Dave Thompson, chair of the supervisors, said the resolution allows for more versatility when making infrastructure decisions.

“We have added the culvert repair into this replacement so that if the county engineer, who uses these funds for our bridges, has the opportunity to replace a bridge with a box culvert with far less money, he can spread those dollars further by using them better,” he said.

According to census data, Marshalltown comprises more than half the population of the county. Because the majority of voters live in Marshalltown, the city must also approve the resolution. However, should the resolution make it onto the ballot, only those living outside Marshalltown would be eligible to vote on the tax renewal.

A farm bureau poll shows its members support the shift in local options sales tax use.

Thompson said he hopes the resolution passes as overwhelmingly as possible.

“We need that money really bad,” said Deane Adams, county supervisor.

According to the city clerk’s office, a member of the board of supervisors will speak on the matter at the Marshalltown City Council’s June 24 meeting. The council will likely vote on the resolution July 8.

Dawn Williams, Marshall County auditor and recorder, said the tax benefits those living in less densely populated areas of the county when visitors from other areas of the state shop locally.

“What that does is spread the burden out to all the people shopping in Marshall County,” she said. “We will be capturing dollars from outside our area as Marshalltown is somewhat of a regional hub for shopping.”