Letter: Thoughts on Saturday's OCTA articleYour article of Feb. 9 about the recent sales tax vote in Osceola County implies at the outset that the tax was defeated throughout the county.
By: Daniel E. DeKoter, Sibley, Iowa, Worthington Daily Globe
Your article of Feb. 9 about the recent sales tax vote in Osceola County implies at the outset that the tax was defeated throughout the county. The sales tax passed in Sibley. It was defeated in other parts of the county. The result is that the other parts of the county will not share in the sales tax revenue generated in Sibley, unless they reconsider. Your article says that Sibley passed the tax near the end, but the reader who peruses the first few paragraphs would think otherwise. Your article also makes no mention of the fact that the other areas of the county lost the revenue from Sibley because of the Osceola County Taxpayers Association’s (OCTA) campaign. This revenue-sharing feature of the tax is a key point.
Also, the OCTA did not “campaign … to defeat the tax measure in the weeks before Jan. 8.” It ran a single ad in the latest newspaper to come out before the vote, and then ran an automated telephone campaign the night before the vote. The OCTA campaign failed to mention that voters in other parts of the county would lose a share of Sibley’s sales tax revenue if they passed the tax. The additional Sibley revenue for towns like Melvin, Harris, Ocheyedan and Ashton would far outweigh the sales tax burden created for residents. Melvin alone lost something like $20,000 a year of revenue sharing from Sibley — money which could have gone to property tax relief.
The article also implies that law enforcement is causing budget problems in Osceola County. Osceola County’s (the rural area’s) total share of the Osceola County Public Safety Commission Budget amounts to about $2 per acre of taxable farmland in the county. I believe the typical acre of farmland here pays about $15 to $17 per acre per year in property tax. The new patrol car the OCTA said we couldn’t afford last year would have cost the county $.04 an acre if the county had paid half the bill and the towns had paid the other half. That’s $6.50 on a quarter section of land per year. Public safety is a relatively small part of the overall property tax load for rural residents. The OCTA wants to blame law enforcement for property taxes because the group is anti-law enforcement, not because law enforcement causes any undue tax burden.