ELECTION 2014: Counties in Iowa, Minn., S.C., to decide on sales tax for roads

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/24/2014

Voters in communities from three states will decide during the fall elections on sales tax measures that would benefit transportation work.

In Johnson County, Iowa, communities will cast ballots on local option sales taxes.

Voters in Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, Tiffin and University Heights will vote together on the question about whether to raise the tax from 6 percent to 7 percent for 10 years. Unincorporated Jackson County and other locales will vote independently.

The 1-cent tax increase is estimated to raise as much as $20 million annually countywide. Only communities that pass the tax would share the revenue.

The tax doesn’t apply to food, prescriptions and fuel.

In Iowa City, the new revenue could be used for multiple purposes. Streets, trails and other infrastructure would claim 50 percent of revenue.

North Liberty would put 50 percent of the new money to street projects. Smaller portions of revenue would be applied to streets in Tiffin and University Heights.

Unincorporated Jackson County would apply 90 percent of the new funds to roads and bridges. The town of Swisher would use all of the new money for streets. Elsewhere, the communities of Lone Tree and Solon would use a portion of their funds for streets.

In neighboring Minnesota, voters in multiple communities in the Saint Cloud area will decide whether to extend a one-half percent local sales tax to benefit such projects, which include road work.

The tax collected in the cities of St. Cloud, St. Augusta, St. Joseph, Sauk Rapids and Waite Park is set to expire in December 2018.

The ballot question will ask voters whether to continue the tax through 2038. In 2013 the local tax raised about $9 million.

A portion of the revenue is dedicated to regional projects. Individual cities also get a cut, based on population and how much is collected.

Berkeley County, S.C., voters will cast ballots that include a question about whether to extend collection of a road sales tax for another seven years. The tax raises about $20 million annually countywide.

Approved in 2008, revenue from the 1-cent sales tax is used to fix intersections, road widening and resurfacing. The existing tax is scheduled to end next spring.

For more 2014 election coverage from Land Line, click here.

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