Street levy up for vote
Fairfield voters will decide whether to grant the city the power to enact a special levy to pay for street improvements.
If approved, the levy could be as high as 67.5 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, and would last 10 years before it came up for a vote again. Fairfield Mayor Ed Malloy said he expects the levy would generate about $200,000 annually.
Iowa residential property owners are taxed at 52.82 percent of their property’s value. Someone who owns a $100,000 home in Fairfield could expect to pay about $36 more per year in property taxes, if the levy is approved and the council raises it to the allowable limit.
The levy was in effect from 1999 to 2009. Malloy said it was simply an oversight that the levy was not put back on the ballot for renewal before it expired. The city has been without the funds from the levy ever since.
The amount of the levy is determined on a year-to-year basis. Malloy said the city did not levy the full allowable amount in some years because it was borrowing money or obtaining money from other sources such as through grants. However, he said the city levied the maximum amount in most years and he expects the council to levy the full amount if the levy is approved Tuesday.
“If you were to make a list of priorities of what government should provide, next to public safety, good streets would be No. 2,” Malloy said.
Malloy said the city improved streets considerably during the 10-year period when the levy was in effect. He said the city is conscious of making sure it approves roads throughout town and not just in a couple of select neighborhoods. Streets are on a schedule of when they need to be resurfaced or in some cases rebuilt entirely.
Although residents may prefer freshly built roads when they’re driving on them, they empty the city’s pocketbook. Rebuilding a road is three times more expensive than simply resurfacing it, which is why the city chooses the less expensive option when only minor repairs are necessary.
Malloy said the levy is critical to the city because it is the main source of revenue to repair roads. He said the city has been living on borrowed money to make repairs the past few years since the levy expired. He said the $200,000 the levy is expected to generate is more than half of what the city spends on street repairs in a typical year.