Tiffin joins most of Iowa in having one cent sales tax

Voters in a fast-growing eastern Iowa community have agreed to a one cent sales tax to help fund future city projects.
Published: Sep. 12, 2023 at 11:04 PM CDT
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TIFFIN, Iowa (KCRG) - Voters in a fast-growing Tiffin have agreed to a one cent sales tax to help fund future city projects.

Voters in Tiffin approved the referendum in a special election Tuesday with 63% of the vote. The one percent local sales tax will take effect next year and could bring in around $600,000 in revenue.

Mayor Steve Berner said the city needs to generate more revenue to keep up with its growth. He added when he moved to town in 1997, the population was around 500. Now, he estimates it’s around 5,700.

Philip Kopp was one of the people in Tiffin who voted in the special election.

“I voted for it because I want them to build a new recreation department or a new, like, a pool and stuff like that,” said Kopp.

A new recreation center is just one of the line items that needs funding as the city grows, according to Berner.

“We’ve got recreational programs and projects, we’ve got public safety items on there,” Berner added.

Earlier this year, TV9 reported on how homeowners in larger communities like Cedar Rapids were shocked by their 2023 assessments and the increase they would be paying in property taxes.

That kind of sticker shock is what officials are trying to avoid in growing Tiffin.

“We have large infrastructure projects ahead of us. And we, as a city, expect the only way we’re going to pay for that is probably an increase in property taxes. So when this...sales tax came as an option for us, that was a direction we thought we could go without having to force higher tax levies on our property owners in town,” said Berner.

Tiffin currently has a city levy of $11.80 per thousand dollars of assessed value. The creation of a sales tax is a way to reduce the burden on all the things property taxes have to pay for and keep the levy right where it is for as long as possible.

“We’re hoping the sales tax will dramatically decrease that increase that’s coming,” said Berner.

For this used-to-be-small-town, the change is a way to keep up with breakneck growth.

“There seems like there’s a new development like every couple of months. It’s growing pretty fast,” said Kopp.