Officials in Iowa’s larger cities are lobbying against the significant tax cut Republicans propose for commercial property. Waterloo Mayor Buck Clark says the City of Waterloo will collect $20-million less in commercial property taxes under the G.O.P. plan.
“It sounds like an absolutely terrible idea and I’m not at all supportive of it,” Clark says. The Republican-led House and Republican Governor Terry Branstad promise that the state will give cities some state money to make up for a 40% reduction in commercial property taxes over five years.
And Republicans say cutting commercial property taxes will spur job creation and cities will benefit from economic growth.
Newton Mayor Chaz Allen says it’s “a little scary” to think about how his city will cope with a reduction in commercial property tax revenue, but he isn’t opposed to the G.O.P. plan. “I commend the governor for doing this,” Allen says. “He’s kicking it off dead center to get a discussion about our property taxes and this is actually going to help our businesses.”
Waterloo’s mayor has his doubts that cutting commercial property taxes by 40% will spur development significantly. “I’m very skeptical that…Waterloo is going to grow at the rate of $20 million of replacement revenue over the next five years,” Clark says. “I just can’t imagine in my wildest dreams that that is going to happen.”
Governor Branstad says when the state cut property taxes on business machinery and equipment during his previous tenure as governor, it led to significant growth. Robert Padmore, the assistant city manager in Sioux City, says that wasn’t the experience of his community.
“We didn’t see any spikes following that change,” Padmore says. Democrats in the Iowa Senate favor a completely different approach, giving a property tax credit to small businesses.