Voters in all but eight Iowa counties have approved a school infrastructure local option sales tax. Some school leaders in those areas without the so-called “SILO” tax question whether the system is legal. Dennis Wentz is superintendent of Coon Rapids-Bayard schools. His district is on the border of Carroll and Guthrie counties, neither of which have approved a SILO measure. Wentz says “It’s just not fair for us to drive to Des Moines or anywhere else in 91 counties in this state and we pay our sales tax to support the children in those districts, and yet we do not have money for the children in our districts.” Wentz says the SILO system started after some larger districts unilaterally began imposing sales taxes. He says “We were one of I believe 74 school districts four or five years ago that initiated litigation against the state because we knew it was just frankly illegal.” Wentz would like a mandatory one-percent sales tax created for schools statewide, or to see SILO abandoned completely by the legislature. He says “They realize they are in a very precarious situation and they know if they do not do something with these eight remaining counties, there’s probably going to be additional litigation brought forth against the state.” Wentz believes by creating the local option system, legislators side-stepped the issue.Wentz says “They put the responsibility back to the counties, where counties then had to vote on it and it’s really put a lot of pressure on school districts in areas where, for whatever reason, people are reluctant to vote for raising taxes.” Wentz and other district leaders from Carroll and Guthrie counties plan to meet with their state legislators later this week. The six other areas not collecting SILO funds are Henry, Humboldt, Iowa, Jefferson, Johnson and Linn counties.
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