Sales tax backers gather

BY TESSA McLEAN | APRIL 06, 2009 7:40 AM

Local officials and community members gathered April 3 at the entrance of Lower City Park — a site where the effects of last summer’s flooding can’t be hidden.

Roughly 30 people attended the kickoff of the Yes For All campaign, promoting a 1 percent local-option sales tax in Johnson County that would help fund flood recovery.

UI art-education Professor Steve McGuire, who co-chairs the group with Southeast Junior High teacher Sue Dvorsky, said at this time last year, parts of City Park had been closed off because of flooding.

“It is our commitment to the future,” McGuire said. “Citizens actually need to step up to the plate and take charge of what we are responsible for.”

His home and work were both flooded.

Proceeds from the proposed tax would go toward flood mitigation and infrastructure projects such as raising North Dubuque Street and elevating the Park Road bridge. Dubuque Street was closed for 32 days last summer, and 40 tons of debris built up against the bridge. If approved by voters on May 5, the tax will be collected for four years.

Dvorsky said community members need to understand the beneficial effects the tax will have.

“The more knowledge people have, the more logical this vote is,” she said.

Opponents of the local-option sales tax, Ax the Tax, are hosting their own campaign event April 15 that will feature a recreation of the Boston Tea Party. Participants are encouraged to bring a bucket of water labeled “tea” to dump in the Iowa River.

The Yes For All campaign’s Facebook group had 263 members on Sunday. The group’s creator, UI student Caitlin Ross, said she was asked by campaign officials to act as a liaison among the campaign members and UI students. Ross, who experienced the flooding last summer, said she thinks the student role in this initiative is very important.

“We should do everything we can to make sure [flooding] doesn’t happen again,” the history and secondary-education major said. “The flood was already bad enough last year; it would be really irresponsible to not pass the tax.”

Officials gathered at another flooded location in Coralville, Wig and Pen, after the conference at City Park.

McGuire noted the collaboration among different community members to support the effort shows how important the tax will be in rebuilding flooded areas.

“By voting yes, we are ensuring a future that’s a little bit drier,” he said.

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