An Independent Voice for Central Iowa Taxpayers

August 2018
Member Outreach
The Association has initiated a member outreach project designed to elicit feedback in three key areas:

  • How members define value from the association,
  • Issues of primary importance to members. and
  • Preferred methods of member engagement.
The feedback will be used to inform association issues and practices. 
Judy Hagey is conducting scheduled phone interviews on a rolling basis, reaching all members over the course of a year. 

You will be contacted in advance to schedule a phone interview, but there is nothing to prevent your speaking up now if you have thoughts to share! 
Just call us at 515-288-3328.
Launching Best Practices Initiative
We are ready to launch the Local Best Practices Initiative , which provides a ready opportunity for members to get involved. The purpose of the initiative is to better to identify and foster best practices in city government efficiency through in-person conversations between association members and local officials. For members, it’s a great way to find out what challenges are facing our cities and to build relationships with local officials. Take a look at the upcoming communication to mayors, managers and council members, as well as the list of best practices that we will use to get the discussion going.
Meetings have been arranged this fall with
Des Moines and West Des Moines as follows:

Des Moines: October 25, 2018, 11:00 – 1:00 p.m. (Location TBD)
West Des Moines: October 31, 2018, 11:30 – 1:00 p.m., Des Moines Golf

There will also be preparation meetings scheduled a few weeks in advance.

Please consider participating! The intent is to follow up once again next spring, then repeat the cycle annually. If you live in or have a particular interest in one of these communities, please let us know if you’re interested in participating.
Public Pension Reform
The association continues to find avenues for outreach to teachers regarding the shortcomings in their current pension plans. Grassroots education is needed before there can be any openness to the concept of change. There is significant misinformation around this issue.
Please take a look at the association's website, The Facts About IPERS (Iowa Public Employee Retirement System), and urge as many people as possible to visit the site and absorb the information found there.

There's also a great YouTube by our friend Chad Aldeman at Bellwether Partners that makes it easy to understand the disadvantages of IPERS for the majority of Iowa's teachers. Again, the more people that see this, the better, so please share with your social media contacts.

As of July 1 this year, payroll contributions increased again on the part of all members of IPERS, from a total of 14.88 percent to 15.73 percent. The burden is shared 60/40 among government employers and their employees. This fiscal year, Iowa taxpayers will be contributing $750 million to IPERS for regular members, of which more than half ($424 million) is paying not for benefits earned in the past year, but to make up for the shortfall in what should be in place to fund benefits earned in years past--but isn't. Annual payments to erase the shortfall will eventually increase to a projected $800 million by 2045.

Despite a nearly 70 percent increase in contributions since 2007, the unfunded liability is still substantially higher today than it was before the market crash, and the funded ratio (a measure of funding status) has not changed.
Storm Water Management

This summer’s extraordinary rain event reinforced the critical need for cities to work regionally on this issue, and to embrace state-of-the-art information and storm water drainage modeling.

A collaborative endeavor sponsored by the Capital Crossroads Governance Sub-Committee (which TACI co-chairs) has involved city officials from 15 communities and two counties to learn together about new models and best practices that take into account modern development patterns and updated information about storm frequency, intensity, and associated impacts. Participants have also learned about regulatory approaches that have received favorable feedback from developers because they provide consistency, but also flexibility in approach when conditions do not lend themselves to the regulatory framework. 

For a good overview of what stormwater is and the challenges facing communities and developers, see the Iowa Stormwater Education Partnership website.

Local Officials: Mark the date - October 2 - on your calendar and plan to attend the breakfast session of the Central Iowa Green Infrastructure Conference. This session is designed specifically for elected officials and city administrators and includes a Lessons Learned section on the Capital Crossroads collaborative.
Polk County Mental Health Systems Review

This year the Iowa legislature passed requirements for mental health regions (of which Polk County is one) that speak to a continuum of care for people with complex needs. (See House File 2456 .) Among other things, it identifies a need for “sub-acute” services. This level of care can be less expensive than hospitalization, which is currently often the only option for many individuals. 

Mental health services are largely local- and state- government funded, and therefore the Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa is interested in fostering a system that is both comprehensive and cost effective. The association is urging the formation of a work group consisting of Polk County, other payors, providers and patients to agree on what gaps exist in Polk County (vis a vis the model outlined in the legislation), and how those gaps might best be filled, including from what funding sources. For more information, see the Complex Needs Service Workgroup Report.   
LOSST - again
In March of 2018, a proposed local option sales tax failed by a razor slim margin (227 votes) to garner the 50 percent plus one vote needed to pass. It did receive a majority of support among voters in Des Moines, West Des Moines and Windsor Heights; however, under Iowa law at that time, votes in all ten contiguous cities in Polk County had to be counted as one block. Subsequent action by the Iowa legislature allows cities to vote individually. Des Moines and West Des Moines have announced their intention to hold another vote in March of 2019.
The Taxpayers Association’s board of directors discussed the issue at its August board meeting. It determined it is important to promote the value of a more diverse revenue base (beyond property tax), and to continue to urge transparency and specificity in the intended use, particularly as it relates to property tax “relief.” Both Des Moines and West Des Moines had been very clear about their intentions last time, proposing to dedicate a portion of new dollars to a reduction in the property tax rate.

The Association’s Issue Brief for the vote last March can be viewed here. Watch for more information and Issue Briefs in the coming months.