The Iowa Chamber Alliance lists property tax reform and a fund for major attractions among its priorities for the upcoming legislative session. The Alliance is a group of 16 chamber organizations in the state.
Debi Durham of the Siouxland Chamber of Commerce says the tax issue is important to stimulate economic growth. Durham says property taxes in the state are “very uncompetitive” for commercial and industrial properties. Durham says the 46-percent property tax rollback on residential property has schools, counties and municipalities struggling to keep up with growth and the burden then falls on commercial and residential properties.
Durham says Iowa ranks as the 45th state for commercial and industrial property tax equity. Alliance chair, Bob Mundt of Council Bluffs, says they don’t have a preferred plan for dealing with property tax reform. Mundt says there are a lot of ideas on how to gain reform, but they don’t have a number one priority for addressing it. Mundt says they’ll look at and evaluate the ideas as they come out of the legislature and hopefully have input.
Nicole Christian is the senior vice president of DavenportOne and says community revitalization is another goal. Christian says they believe a fund supporting major projects or destinations is important to revitalize Iowa’s communities to help attract and retain workers and businesses. Christian says they recommend that at least 25-percent of the increase in state gaming revenue should go to the destination attraction fund.
Christian says they also want and increase in state money for historic tax credits. She says they want it increase form six-point-four million to 20-million dollars annually to preserve entertainment districts. Christian says they also believe the eminent domain law unnecessarily restricted an “essential revitalization tool for our communities,” and the Alliance supports responsible use of eminent domain within urban renewal areas in support of revitalizing those areas.
The C-E-O of the Bettendorf Chamber, Scott Tunnicliff says the state also needs to work on increasing its workforce. Tunnicliff says state grants should be given to communities. Tunnicliff says the communities could use the money develop strategies for the retention and recruitment of workers. Tunnicliff says the cities could develop “best practices” for use by others for the retention and recruitment of workers.
Jay Byers of the Greater Des Moines partnership says the Alliance will also work with federal officials to increase the available workforce through immigration reform. Byers says the Alliance supports streamlining the process for necessary workers who can contribute to the economy. Byers says the Alliance supports a “balanced approach” to comprehensive immigration reform.
The Iowa Chamber Alliance leaders say they know the issues take time to develop, but they’re pleased with the past progress they’ve made.