County officials to take up ‘backfill’ with legislators Wednesday

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DES MOINES – County officials and employees from across the state will travel to Des Moines on Wednesday, March 14, for the 10th Annual County Day at the Capitol hosted by the Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC). The event will give county officials and employees the opportunity to be involved in the legislative process by promoting legislation that is of importance to counties.

Among other issues, county officials will be advocating for full funding of the commercial and industrial property tax backfill.

In 2013 state law was changed to reduce the amount of taxes that local governments get from commercial and industrial properties. The backfill is the reimbursement from the state to local governments for this loss. Reducing or eliminating the backfill would likely force property tax increases, predominately on homes and farms, or reductions in local services that residents rely on. according to ISAC officials. This reimbursement is part of the state’s buy in on the property tax reductions they granted, and ISAC and its members are urging the Iowa Legislature to keep that promise and back the backfill.

“There are currently House and Senate proposals that make rapid reductions to the backfill. Neither proposal is acceptable to our members because they both start reductions in FY 2019. Counties have already had to certify their budgets and have no ability to adjust their revenue sources after certification. Their only option will be to reduce services or in some cases, use reserves set aside for other projects. We strongly suggest that the backfill be fully funded in FY 2019 and a plan established in conjunction with county officials for any future phaseout of funding.” said Bill Peterson, ISAC Executive Director.

“Our members will be explaining to their legislators the cuts that would be made to local services and the expected future hikes in property taxes if the backfill is not fully funded.”

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