Among all of the city council elections and multi-million-dollar bond issues decided Tuesday, there was a small but concerted effort in the far northwestern Iowa town of Rock Rapids to create a municipal band. It would have raised taxes, slightly, to generate $9,200 a year, but voters rejected the idea.
The lady who spearheaded the band effort, 84-year-old Jackie Telford, says it’s a disappointment the proposal failed. Telford says, “It would have paid for instruments, maybe a leader, music, anything a band has need of.” Earlier this year, she learned about the so-called Iowa Band Law, on the books since the 1920s, which allows cities to levy a tax to fund municipal bands and other arts projects.
Telford played cornet in the Rock Rapids city band decades ago and thought reviving the band would be a wonderful way to showcase the town’s talented musicians. Telford says, “I played in it in high school in the ’40s, graduated in 1946, and it went on a few years after that but then it was just dropped.”
She says the final tally on Tuesday was 108 votes “for” the band and some 350 votes “against.” In this economy, she says, any increase in taxes is frowned upon. “I’ve had a lot of support from friends for it but you never know how people vote when they go to the polls,” Telford says. “And the day was stormy. We had snow. Polls didn’t open until noon and that’s when the snow started. It may have kept some people away.”
She remains undeterred and hopes to gather more signatures and try to get the band on the ballot again. Telford says she may also still try to organize a local band of –volunteer– musicians.