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West Burlington, Iowa

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Letter To The Editor: Vote YES To Renew Local Option Sales Tax

October 15, 2021

Letter to the Editor.

Election Day is Tuesday, November 2. For Burlington residents, the local option sales tax referendum, frequently referred to as Pennies for Progress, is on the ballot. It is important for this measure to pass. The Local Options Sales Tax has been in effect for many years in both the cities of Burlington and West Burlington. But for Burlington, the local option sales tax is placed before the voters every 10 years for a referendum vote.

Why is it important to maintain this source of revenue? Fifty percent of the revenue generated by Pennies for Progress has been used to provide property tax relief, something all Burlington residents should want to see continue. Without the successful extension of the Local Option Sales Tax property taxes will go up. But also consider that the funds have been used for public safety and community enhancement, making Burlington a safer and more welcoming city. For example, for the past ten years, the funds were used to pay for eight police officer positions and three new police cars each year, in addition to fire department upgrades and new equipment. Community enhancements such as the sidewalk program, housing rehab, and demolition program, park equipment, and Community Field maintenance have all been made possible by the local options sales tax. By voting YES, Burlington residents can secure the needed funds to keep these important public safety and community enhancement initiatives in place.

It is noteworthy that a significant portion of the local sales tax is paid by non-residents who shop in Greater Burlington as well as by tourists. As Greater Burlington has continued to grow as a regional shopping hub, the total revenue from the local option sales tax has also grown. This growth has been to the advantage of Burlington residents as they benefit from the property tax relief and expanded law enforcement paid for in part by non-residents who shop here.

Local option sales tax has a long and impactful history in Burlington, first adopted in 1994, renewed in 1997, 2002, and 2012. Now Burlington residents can once again vote yes to keep this important source of revenue.

The question? Shall the City of Burlington, Iowa, levy a one percent sales tax to be effective January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2032, of which at least 50% of the proceeds shall be used for property tax relief.  The remainder of the sales tax proceeds shall be used for public safety, capital improvements, capital equipment, debt obligations, and economic development.

The Answer: Vote YES

Every vote matters. Make yours count.

Della Schmidt

Greater Burlington Partnership

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