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Small tax hike to fund communications center

BY GRACE SAVIDES | JANUARY 28, 2010 7:30 AM

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Johnson County residents will soon see a small increase in their property taxes to help fund a new emergency-communications center.

County residents will be taxed 70 cents on every $1,000 of property value, up from 68 cents, with the funds going directly toward funding the Joint Emergency Communication Center. The Johnson County Board of Supervisors approved the tax levy proposed by the center’s policy board at a meeting Wednesday.

The tax was dropped from the originally proposed 75-cent levy, said Sally Stutsman, the head of the supervisors.

Changes in the tax levy came after supervisors expressed concerns about the amount of the tax.

“They seemed not to be fully aware of what money they had available for them,” Stutsman said.
But Iowa City City Councilor Mike Wright defended the levy and said the only way to have a budget was to levy taxes. Because of the unique nature of the center, he said, it was unclear how much money the center would need.

“Once we have a year of history under our belts, we’ll know a lot more,” Wright said. “It’s a whole new entity.”

Supervisor Rod Sullivan said he wasn’t completely satisfied with how center officials compiled their budget.

“I’m glad they reduced what they were asking for, but I’m disappointed they chose to raid their reserves instead of cutting their budget,” he said. The communications center has reserves of approximately $2.6 million.

The communications center is a joint project of Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, and Johnson County. The center will be fully staffed and in operation starting July 1.


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