City and county governments may have dodged a property tax freeze. A committee of legislators working with the governor recommended a property tax freeze for local governments that do not begin sharing services by 2011. But Senator Jeff Angelo, a Republican from Creston, says many of his colleagues objected to that, so they’ve decided instead to reserve state grants for cities and counties that do find ways to save money through consolidation of services. “There were a few people (who) thought it was going to be a tough sell to the legislature, so then from a pragmatic standpoint, do I want this whole debate to fall to the ground over a property tax freeze in 2011?” Angelo asked. He believes the alternate plan will be a big enough “stick” to get action on consolidation and sharing in local government.Governor Tom Vilsack admits denying state grants and loans to local governments that fail to share services may not be as big a threat as a property tax freeze, but he thinks it will produce results. “There’s a potpourri of state grants that go to local government, so if the stick is going to be ‘Okay, you’re not going to be competitive or you’re going to be put at a competitive disadvantage for these funds, you’re not going to get these funds, these funds are going to be frozen,’ whatever it is, it sends an economic message to a community, ‘Hey, we’d better get engaged in this conversation ’cause we’re going to lose out on dollars,'” Vilsack says. But Vilsack says legislators must set a hard and fast deadline for counties and cities to being sharing, or the state won’t see any results. “And the state ought not be investing in communities that aren’t willing to invest in this process,” Vilsack says.
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