Human Services Funding and Tax Incentive Giveaways

This meeting the council reviews the budget guidelines for 2014-2015 (item 38).

Many years ago the voters of Ames approved 1% sales tax referendum (see the sales tax history) directing that 60% of the sales tax goes to reduce property taxes that pay for services like roads, police and fire protection and 40% be expended on "...human service agencies, the arts, and community betterment."

This Tuesday the council sets the 2015-2016 funding levels Human Services (ASSET) . It is often tempting for city councils to use the funds earmarked for "Human Services and the Arts" on items that are traditionally paid for out of the general fund (property tax). If the health of the fund is considered an issue in the discussion, it the discussion should also cover how some local option dollars go to support items that are very justified coming from property taxes.

The idea of "community betterment" is a vague one, and council might be wise to treat its meaning conservatively, and ensure its use is not for something traditionally purchased with property taxes dollars.

The Ames City Council begins at 7:00 PM  Dec 16th.  The agenda includes:


City Council Budget Guidelines

The Ames City Council begins at 7:00 PM  November 25th.  The agenda includes:

  • Item 28 -- Hearing on rezoning properties for ISU Research Park Phase III Project from Agricultural (A) to Planned Industrial (PI). The research park expansion will increase available land for businesses who could benefit from the park amenities.

  • Item 29 -- Hearing on Zoning Ordinance Text Amendments to Reduce On-Site Parking Required for Fraternities and Sorority Housing and make text clarifications. The council communicated previously they were comfortable with the 3 bedroom per parking space limit. The current parking regulations will remain in place protecting the adjacent neighborhood from becoming parking lots.

  • Item 38 -- City Council budget guidelines. One issue of note is the transition to residents paying higher property taxes while commercial and industrial users will be paying less, due to the bipartisan property tax reform this year. Another concern is the $3.3 million Airport Hangar and Terminal. While the hangar serves as a gateway to investors, such a large cost for an asset that many citizens will never use is concerning. More concerning is that the initial split of the project was to be 1/3 Iowa State University, 1/3 Private Sector Businesses and 1/3 City of Ames funding. However the budget letter reads, "It appears it may be difficult for the private sector and the University to contribute $866,000 each to the City in cash." City staff continues to work on funding strategies, but for an asset used by so few, perhaps a more conservative tack would be a more reasonable approach.


Economic Development or Corporate Welfare? Tough call.

The Ames City Council begins at 7:00 PM on Monday November 10th.  The agenda includes:

One Last Dance with the Deery Brothers

The Ames City Council begins at 5:30 with a joint meeting of the Ames City Council and EUORAB with a single addenda item:

Breckenridge proposal adjusted again.

The Ames City Council begins at 7:00.  The agenda includes: