Governor Tom Vilsack is asking a group of legislators and experts to come up with a way to revamp Iowa’s property tax system. The group will meet with Vilsack soon and the ultimate goal is to reduce property taxes by getting cities and counties to consolidate services. Vilsack says shrinking the number of local governments can increase efficiency, provide better service and reduce the overall cost of things like police protection and snow removal. Voters in Iowa’s largest county rejected a city/county government consolidation plan this past November. but Vilsack is undeterred. “I think what happened in Polk County is voters rejected a model, an example, a type of consolidation. I don’t know that they necessarily rejected the concept,” Vilsack says. House Speaker Christopher Rants, a republican from Sioux City, agrees with Vilsack that it’s time to consolidate local governments in Iowa to help reduce property taxes. “If you don’t make changes in who’s delivering the services and how much services are being delivered, all you’re doing is reshuffling the deck chairs,” Rants says. “You’ve got to get to the issue of governance.” Rants says prospects for real reform may be higher with a legislature that’s closely-divided along party lines and a governor who’s not seeking re-election. But Rants says it won’t be easy. “That’s a lot of political dynamite,” Rants says of property tax reform. Rants says Vilsack’s initial call to reduce the so-called “rollback” that automatically raises taxes on business and commercial property won’t work because homeowners would have to pay more. The group Vilsack has assembled to tackle the property tax issue will meet in the open, but Vilsack admonished statehouse reporters yesterday not to blow things out of proportion.”As we discuss these issues and throw ideas out, give us some ability to think out loud and not to rush and sensationalize what’s being discussed until it’s clear that it’s a real proposal,” Vilsack says. “You all (reporters) could put a very dampening impact on these conversations.”