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Property tax hike gets reluctant support

Levy in FD to rise, fueled by pension expenses

February 5, 2013

A 4 percent increase in the property tax rate that officials say is largely driven by an increase in the amount the local government is required to contribute for employee pensions appears to be on......

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Feb-06-13 5:43 PM

The amount that property is taxed does not effect the accessed value of and demand does that...Econ 101. Property taxes are accessed by the county! But I don't disagree that Barney gets confused...

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Feb-06-13 10:02 AM

Public Employees should be treated like most of the private sector. What's in your 401K is it. You ride with the waves. Ups and downs. Wish I could demand my employer to shore up my fund...but..I'd be out of a job the next day.

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Feb-06-13 8:16 AM

Good pointDodger; The higher property taxes encourages the property values to go down, while lower taxes encourage values to go up. Since raising taxes automatically causes the counter reaction of lowering property values, the endless cycle is destined to keep repeating itself. Poor Barney becomes confused because his hands are tied and the city can't get off the merry-go-round, so they raise taxes again, and again. This also motivates the city to over-assess properties to try and recover the lost revenue.

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Feb-06-13 8:13 AM

Oh Dodger I agree but others don't like it when you bring facts into the conversation.

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Feb-06-13 1:47 AM

Median home prices in 2009 for towns relative to Fort Dodge's size in Iowa: Ames $168,729; Cedar Falls $159,794; Waterloo $107,900; Mason City $102,404; Muscatine $102,931; Marshalltown $97,347; Sioux City $92,500. Fort Dodge? $85,021. The only city lower? Ottumwa at $71,129. So is it just a coincidence that Fort Dodge and Ottumwa have the two highest city % of the property tax rates, or overall tax rates? I don't think so.

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Feb-06-13 1:38 AM

"Fort Dodge's current, as well as the new proposed rate, is higher than any of the 15 most populated cities in Iowa. Of those 15, Waterloo has the highest city tax rate of $18.83 while Urbandale has the lowest of $9.52. The city rates are courtesy of the WCF Courier." ---- Ottumwa still has a higher rate than FD. And again, is this not relative to the median home prices?

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Feb-06-13 12:03 AM

Fleecing - the exception is when cities give taxes breaks for those new employers (which is commonplace in today's economic development). Nevertheless, past union contracts now have the community over a barrel and there should have been push back then because to offset it now is nearly impossible.

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Feb-05-13 7:41 PM

Sharon-I agree that this is a place were cuts need to be made but it is going to take a while to negotiate new contracts with the unionized employees. It is my understanding that these negotiations have began. What would be interesting to see would be another no vote, then the majority would be saying no, and they would be forced to develop a plan to address their no vote. That plan would have o include using up reserves and/or laying people off. That plan wouldn't guarantee in the future that there wouldn't be tax increases next year or the year after if union contracts have not been renegotiated. A no vote is for no reason other than them to be able to say come election time that they didn't vote to support tax increases.

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Feb-05-13 7:30 PM

What good are public unions? Years ago they were needed to entice people to work for the city because you although you may make less per hour, you would make up for it in more benifets. Thats no longer the case. As I have stated before, why, if Gov. jobs*****so bad, there are hundreds of people applying for 1 opening?

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Feb-05-13 7:03 PM

Why do we have to pay so much tax? I'm pretty sure there will be another raise soon. Most companies switch pension to 401 k. There are other options. How about people working w/o pension? We have to squeeze out money(No pension) to give to people who have pensions already?

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Feb-05-13 6:35 PM

Sounds to me like we could use a new city council and mayor who are PROACTIVE rather than REACTIVE! If you talk to anyone on the Fire Department, they'll tell you that they do not see the money from the city. In fact, they apply for grants in order to get their new trucks. Otherwise they wouldn't get anything and have a hard time keeping up the equipment in good condition. A 10% cut in city employment might be a good place to start. And what do property owners in Fort Dodge get with all of the money we are constantly paying the city?? NOTHING! We are constantly paying more without seeing anything in return. Maybe listen to some people with common sense once!

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Feb-05-13 5:08 PM

its time to terminate 10% of the work force to make up the difference

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Feb-05-13 4:47 PM

SharonO, they have all looked at it and I wouldn't be surprised they wish they could vote no. Those who are going to vote for it without comment, or grandstanding, simply know they are powerless. It is mandated and to cover the cost, taxes must be raised. What they can do is get busy working on policy to prevent it from happening again a year from now, but my guess is that they won't. We all have great ideas on how to cut spending, as we do in our homes when we spend more than we bring in, but this isn't home budgeting 101. There are entitlements and mandated payments at every level of government and they legally cannot avoid this. So to say no shows me very little knowledge on the side of the councilmen that are saying they will vote no. They know the majority for it to pass is there so they want to look good - its foolish, really.

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Feb-05-13 1:58 PM

Really? Just blindly pass this without looking at it, making some plans for changes? You may be right, it may have to be done, but not until all options are looked at. I would feel my councilman werent working for me or the city if they just said OK, you think we need it so here you go. If it is true that benifits are what has been said to me and what is written here then thats a great place to start cost cutting measures.

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Feb-05-13 1:34 PM

Skywalker the Median home price of Ames is $175K and in FD it is $85K. So they are able to generate more tax dollars from their lower rate (half of FD)because the home prices are double that of FD. In other words a home owner in Ames may pay a lower rate but the amount they pay in dollars is actually more. The rate is relative to the values of the property.

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Feb-05-13 12:46 PM

The benefits given to city employees are just out of this world. Unless they have changed in the last couple of years (which I don't believe they have) according to the plan document I found on the city's website, the entire premium for health benefits is entirely covered by the city. Inside this plan, the individual/family annual deductibles are $100/$200. The coinsurance is 20% but the annual out-of-pocket expenses are capped at $750/person and $1500/family. I'd love to see how much these premiums run/employee. This sounds like one of those Cadillac plans to me. Where can I sign up?

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Feb-05-13 12:42 PM

According to tax-rates . com, Iowa has the 15th highest percentage of property value paid in property tax (1.29%), 28th highest actual median amount paid ($1569)and 26th highest percent of income paid in property taxes (2.68%). But that is the median number in Iowa. Fort Dodge's current, as well as the new proposed rate, is higher than any of the 15 most populated cities in Iowa. Of those 15, Waterloo has the highest city tax rate of $18.83 while Urbandale has the lowest of $9.52. The city rates are courtesy of the WCF Courier.

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Feb-05-13 12:03 PM

Dodger,I flourish in tax law and accounting and am well informed on what high taxes do locally and nationally to economies. So,I encourage others like you to educate yourself on taxes and basic accounting principles and you too may someday understand the importance of lower taxes and how it can help the community.

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Feb-05-13 11:38 AM

Ames's city property tax rate (for 2012) is $10.84 per thousand, compared to Fort Dodge's new rate of $20.82 per thousand. What's Ames doing different? They have pensions, employee benefits, with a police and fire department that are paid too. The Council members were pressured into approving this to soon.

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Feb-05-13 11:34 AM

Why don't you have the city buy an unmarked car and make more money off that instead of taxing us citizens more money, we are in a recession, nobody should be getting raises, who do you think you all are? When times are tough, you quit spending and rewrite the budget, cut wages and figure it out just like we all have to do. What is wrong with this town?

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Feb-05-13 11:25 AM

justwords - those who are in favor of honoring contracts can also be in favor of restructuring them. Yes, we are obligated to honor what is currently on the books. Even you may admit that the system is unsustainable and this increase may only bridge the gap for another year, and then another forced on and so on. It makes zero sense for these councilmen to grand stand and say I will vote no to appease their constituency and be on record as opposing it. Name a politician that is in favor of raising taxes? I know a few, they are called former politicians who wrote policy that could damage citizens monetarily in the future, after they are no longer in office. Let's see focus on correcting it, complaining about it does not one bit of good, it must pass.

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Feb-05-13 11:19 AM

most will make the wrong argument here. Perhaps it was presented to the council in the wrong matter. To those on the council who say they will vote no, they are so very uninformed it is scary. They HAVE to pass this. Those who came before them passed measures that force their hand. Move on to the next matter on the agenda and agree to come back and look at ways to amend it because this time next year, getting ready for the 2014-15 budget, it is likely they will have to raise it up again. The system is unsustainable but they are powerless to fight it as it is currently. Educate yourself, councilmen.

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Feb-05-13 11:15 AM

You think our property taxes are high here fleecing? Wow. Educate yourself.

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Feb-05-13 10:54 AM

You will never attract and retain quality employers as long as your commercial and property taxes continue to remain high. Businesses are smart and unlike local governments they produce and are responsible to the consumer and stockholders. If you don't believe it,then look at the west and northeast coasts and take note that businesses are fleeing and going south where taxes are much lower and a have a much friendlier business environment than Iowa and Ft Dodge. Vote no today on new taxes.

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Feb-05-13 10:54 AM

Most companies have moved away from pension plans and donate to a 401K plan for their employees. Maybe it is time for our negotiators to implement that on all new employees. Going forward they will have access to a 401K plan with city contributions and no pension plan. It probably won't happen because our negotiators are also the benifactors. What ever the unions get they get plus.

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