City officials warn of tax reform consequences

Fort Dodge leaders are warning of future cutbacks in city services if a property tax reform bill pending in the Legislature becomes law.

”If they put this in place, we are going to lose city services,” Councilman Kim Alstott said Monday evening. ”We are going to lose police. We are going to lose fire.”

Although Gov. Terry Branstad and other state leaders have said the state government will give local governments any money they lose as a result of property tax reform, Alstott said he’s skeptical that Fort Dodge will see any of that money.

He added that the reform proposal leaves in place a limit of $8.10 per $1,000 of taxable value that the city can levy to pay for things like police and fire protection.

Fort Dodge would lose $75,000 in the first year if the proposal is enacted, according to Jeff Nemmers, the city clerk and finance director.

”Every succeeding year would be less revenue,” he said.

Based on estimates prepared by the Iowa League of Cities, Fort Dodge would lose $1.4 million in the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

Although Alstott raised the possibility of laying off firefighters and police officers, it remains unclear what would happen to Fort Dodge city services if the bill becomes law.

”Nobody can do any true analysis until they pass the thing,” Mayor Matt Bemrich said.

City Manager David Fierke added ”We can only advocate our position and react to what happens.”