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Proposed Iowa City budget could include 'emergency property tax' for climate action

Iowa City City Hall on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019. (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)
Iowa City City Hall on Friday, Dec. 27, 2019. (Aaron Scheinblum/KCRG)(KCRG)
Published: Dec. 27, 2019 at 5:20 PM CST
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Iowa City residents may end up paying a higher property tax starting this summer.

In the proposed budget for the next fiscal year, city staff suggest adding an emergency property tax for Iowa City residents. Staff says that money from those taxes will go entirely towards the city's climate action plan.

Iowa state code allows for cities to implement an emergency property tax. Iowa City staff say this is the first time they have proposed using it.

In the most recent proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2021, the city proposed a tax of 24-cents per $1,000 of a property's valuation. The report says that will bring in $1 million to help with the city's climate goals that were released in November.

Ashley Monroe, the Assistant City Manager for the city, said the emergency property tax would ensure the money collected would go directly towards initiatives for the climate action plan.

"The emergency levy provides a benefit because it separates and specifies what exactly the money is to be used for," Monroe said. "So by us identifying this as a climate action initiative, we can adjust and identify those funds as being specifically for those issues and actions."

Monroe said the money would go directly towards certain projects that they identified in the city's plans released back in November, and would not pay for any additional staff. She said the three full-time employees the city plans to add will come from a different revenue source.

"What we're hoping to do with the funds received from the emergency levy is to expand awareness and education and public infrastructure that furthers the climate objectives," Monroe said. "So that includes things like private investment at businesses and residences, public tree planting and other education initiatives."

The city council will ultimately vote to the budget next year. The public hearing process on the budget starts January 4.