A proposal to help Burlington’s budget could have a negative impact on its neighbors.
Gas/electric bills in Des Moines County currently include a 1% local option sales tax.
The money generated is pooled and distributed to the county and to incorporated cities.
Burlington is looking to implement a 3% franchise fee, which would eliminate the local option sales tax on gas/electric bills within the city.
City Manager Jim Ferneau says the franchise fee is a necessity for Burlington, given its current financial situation.
He says without the franchise fee, the city’s property tax rate would increase by about $1.65. With it, the increase would only be about $0.75.
Ferneau acknowledges there would be unintended consequences because Burlington’s share of the local option sales tax would be gone.
County Budget Director Cheryl McVey says Des Moines County could lose $89,000 a year if Burlington implements the franchise fee.
She says if West Burlington follows suit with its own 1% fee, the county could lose another $41,000 annually.
McVey says the county divides the utility money between the secondary roads department (50%), rural services (20%), the sheriff’s office (10%), the county attorney’s office (10%) and economic development (10%).
She says the secondary roads department is already reviewing its budget in case the franchise fee(s) are adopted.