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Iowa State Association of Counties’ (ISAC) Top Legislative Priorities for 2018

January 18, 2018
Emmetsburg News

Part One of this article was published in the Thursday, Jan. 11 Democrat and related the problems and recommended solutions of two of the four important priorities for the Iowa State Association of Counties (ISAC). Every year this group looks at issues from the past year as well as the concerns of residents of Iowa. They then develop legislative priorities to bring before the Iowa House of Representatives and the Iowa Senate.

Part one looked at problems and recommended solutions for Iowa's Mental Health and Disability Services and Secondary Roads. In Part two looks at the last two issues, Tax Reform and Water Quality Management.

In 2013, Property Tax reform legislation has been providing property tax relief for several classifications and subsets of property; however, changing the assessment procedure for certain property has unduly reduced the future revenue of local governments. While the new business property tax credit and legislatively imposed rollbacks are funded in large part by state dollars, changes to the taxable value of multi-residential and telecommunications property will have a negative effect on future property tax revenues. Additionally, capping backfill funding and reducing the assessment growth limitation percentage will only further threaten the future revenue of local governments, and by extension, the services they provide to the taxpayers. In the absence of true reform, Iowa's property tax system is still in need of equity among classes and stability for local governments.

ISAC's solution is that comprehensive tax reform should continue to be a primary goal of the Legislature in 2018 and the years ahead. This legislation should include property tax reform that stabilizes the tax base, resolves unfair discrepancies within the current tax base, improves accountability in the budgeting process of local governments, and imposes a reasonable limitation on city and county property taxes while maintaining local control for citizens and their elected representatives. The legislation should fully fund the property tax credits and rollback replacement claims, and should consider an appropriation to help local governments deal with the reduction in revenue due to the changes to the assessment methodology for multi-residential and telecommunications property.

Numerous sources have well documented that there is a need to provide adequate, sustainable, dedicated state financial resources to address the statewide concerns related to Iowa's water quality management issues. Specific concerns relate to the unacceptable high level of nitrates and phosphorus that are entering our water system. Additionally, there are on-going issues that must be addressed in our efforts to minimize future losses caused by flooding through effective flood mitigation programs.

ISAC recommends the following:

1) The passage of a statewide sales tax increase of at least 3/8s of a penny in support of the Natural Resources and Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund also known as I-WILL.

2) The maintaining of the distribution formula found in Iowa Code Chapter 461, outlined by the Iowa Legislature in support of the 2010 vote by Iowans on the Constitutional Amendment.

a) 23% allocated to a Natural Resources account, created in the Trust Fund to be used by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources

b) 20% to go to a soul conservation and protection account created in the Trust Fund to be used by the Department of Agriculture and Stewardship for soil conservation and water protection

c) 14% to be used for watershed protection

d) 13% to fund the Iowa Resources Enhancement and Protection (REAP) fund

e) 13% to be used for local conservation partnerships

f) 10% to be used for land-based trails

g) 7% to be used for lake restoration

3) The identification of additional financial resources to be used to address the water quality management issues. Specifically, ISAC would:

a) Encourage significant funding for, and, the aggressive implementation of a revolving loan program so that critical funds could be used for multiple projects throughout the years ahead

b) Encourage a significant amount of funding be utilized to assist cities and towns in their effort to upgrade their water treatment facilities.

4) The implementation of, and funding for, a network of statewide watershed authorities, through the effective use of 28E agreements. These watershed authorities could provide coordination of efforts in specific areas/regions of the state.

5) The passage of legislation that would support and encourage public sector entities, such as counties, to be directly involved in water mitigation projects that could involve county conservation boards, etc.

These two subjects including the two subjects from the Thursday, Jan. 11, Democrat show what counties and residents of Iowa find important. If you would like further information on ISAC you can go to their website at



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