BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
WEST POINT – Taxpayers in West Point could see a substantial bump in their property tax rates this year.
At Monday’s regular meeting of the West Point City Council, the council voted 5-0 to set a public hearing at a special Feb. 24 meeting to set the levy.
Because the levy increase is more than 2%, state law requires a special hearing for the levy to allow taxpayers to hear what the council is planning to do with the money.
The Iowa legislature put a new law on the books this year that places a 2% soft cap on property tax revenue growth on governmental bodies.
West Point officials are projecting a 7.44% increase for fiscal year 2020-21. In 2019-20 the district taxed residents at 7.31/$1,000 of assessed valuation generating $242,000. If the city held at that amount for the next fiscal year it would have created a levy of $7.13/$1,000 due to the city’s taxable valuation increasing $844,000.
However, City Administrator Dennis McGregor said the city is looking at some relatively steep insurance increases across the board. The city is also going to lease space for the West Point Police Department, which currently operates out of the West Point Fire Station.
The additional revenues needs are projected to be $260,000, which would required a levy rate of $7.66/$1,000, which is a 7.44% increase. After the hearing, the city would then hold another hearing for the budget approval which would require a supermajority of 4 of the 5 councilman.
Along with the 2% soft cap, the new law requires the supermajority approval of the levy increase.
The new levy would still be .54 under the state’s general fund property tax cap of $8.10.