Cedar Rapids voters rejected a one-cent sales tax extension Tuesday that would have paid for a comprehensive flood protection system. The extension would have generated $30-million a year for 20 years and paid the local match for federal and state funds.
Mayor Ron Corbett says the vote will likely derail the city’s efforts to win more flood protection funding from Des Moines and Washington D.C. “I’m certainly disappointed because we had things lined up at the state level for statewide funding and all indications from the federal government through Senators Harkin and Grassley, they were going to go to bat for us there,” Corbett says.
“I think it was pretty clear during the course of this discussion that without a local match, there’s not going to be any state or federal funding.”
Without the new funding, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers can only pay to protect the city’s east side, according to city councilwoman and mayor pro-tem Monica Vernon. “This is a landmark decision and so much about our future rests on this,” Vernon says. “I mean, 200-million riding in the balance at the legislature. We worked pretty hard on it. They were ready, but you can kiss that goodbye.”
Several towns in Linn County did vote to extend the local option sales tax, which was put in place by voters to pay for recovery efforts in the wake of the devastating 2008 flood.