Eldon residents get second chance to pass sales tax
ELDON — The city of Eldon will hold a forum about its Local Option Sales Tax at 1 p.m. Sunday Feb. 24 at the KD Center.
Eldon residents voted 151 to 149 not to renew its 1-cent L.O.S.T. in November’s general election, but they’ll get a second chance to pass the measure during a special election March 5.
Eldon Mayor Shirley Stacey explained the city’s current L.O.S.T. sunsets Dec. 31. The measure on the March 5 ballot is not a new tax, but an extension of the tax that has been in place since January 2002.
If the measure is passed in the March 5 special election, it will extend the tax to Dec. 31, 2025.
If the measure is not passed, Eldon’s L.O.S.T. will end and the city will no longer be able to collect the extra sales tax penny after Dec. 31, and the sales tax collected there will drop from 7 to 6 percent.
“But we will pay that extra tax any place else we shop; it’s in effect in the rest of Wapello County,” said Stacey. “We’ll pay the tax, but we won’t see any benefit from it.”
Stacey said the city would miss the extra revenue brought in by L.O.S.T., which adds up to an estimated $96,000 to $100,000 each fiscal year.
The L.O.S.T. revenue goes into Eldon’s general fund and is then used for wages and purchases for the city’s library, equipment and training for its volunteer fire and police departments, wages and maintenance of the cemetery, repair of water mains and streets, upkeep and replacement of city equipment and more.
“In the general fund, it can be used for many things,” said Stacey.
Without the L.O.S.T. funds, Stacey said Eldon would have to cut services to departments, as well as street maintenance and equipment upgrades because the city couldn’t support them with only its water, sewer and garbage revenues.
“We know we’re going to have to make some cuts if it doesn’t pass or possibly raise property taxes,” she said. “And no one likes property tax increases.”
The measure was defeated by two votes in November, but 86 voters didn’t vote one way or the other and left the yes or no ovals blank.
According to Stacey, some of the voters didn’t understand what the L.O.S.T. measure was so they left it blank or voted no. Some voters, she continued, might not have turned their ballots over to even see the measure printed there.
This time, the wording for the measure has been simplified, plus there will be no need to flip to the other side of the ballot, said Stacey.
To help Eldon residents understand what the L.O.S.T. fund is and how it helps the city, Stacey and a few volunteers plan to go door-to-door offering information and answering questions in addition to holding the community forum Feb. 24.
Stacey, an Eldon city councilman, the Eldon city clerk, a Wapello County supervisor and representatives from Wapello County cities where the measure passed in November will be at the forum to answer questions.
Poll hours will be 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. March 5 at the Eldon Library Hall.
Absentee ballots are available now. Votes can be cast through March 4 at the Wapello County Auditor’s Office in the county courthouse in Ottumwa. For a mailed ballot, a written request is due by 5 p.m. March 1 in the auditor’s office, and completed absentee ballots must be postmarked by midnight March 4 or hand-delivered to the auditor’s office before the polls close at 8 p.m. March 5.
For voting information, call the Wapello County Auditor’s Office at 641-683-0020.