To the Editor:
Despite nearly doubling in population in the past decade, Dallas County voters did not feel passing a bond referendum for a new administrative building and public safety facility was the answer to our current space shortages and future facility needs. As a small government conservative, I supported the proposal because it was necessary for a county that has experienced the level of growth in such a short period of time. Let me share why I supported this plan.
I believe in addition to the list of responsibilities that individual elected officials have outlined for them in the Iowa Code, we also have two other critical responsibilities. The first is to be forward-thinking, and secondly to be frugal with public dollars. This plan brought forth by the board of supervisors met both of these responsibilities. I commend the supervisors for working to trim this project down to the size it was, and being very frugal with your tax dollars. They also worked diligently to ensure under this plan Dallas County had room to grow their facilities in the future. Regardless of what any critics may say about the plan, this plan did just those two things.
Some voted no because they wanted the county administration offices to remain in the historic downtown Adel area. Others voted no because they did not want their taxes raised. I understand both positions. Reasonable people can agree to disagree on the plan. It is my hopes that no grudges are held because of differing opinions on this matter.
As a small government conservative, I am not a fan of raising taxes. I do, however, recognize that the county has services to provide to its residents that are outlined in the Iowa Code. These are services the county “shall” provide. Shall doesn’t mean “if you get around to it” in the Code; it mean you WILL provide them, and Dallas County needs room to meet these needs. As a former Chamber of Commerce Director, I recognize and think most of our residents do as well, that no business could double in size in 15 years and not provide additional space to operate. Dallas County government must grow with our growing population.
Some would say that as the county population expands we should have ample resources to provide the necessary space. It is true that the county’s population and tax base has expanded. The reality is the board of supervisors has reduced the county tax levy numerous times as the tax base has expanded, lessening the taxpayers burden and not overtaxing our citizens. For every dollar of tax paid in Dallas County, 13.5 cents of every dollar goes to the county. The remaining 86.5 cents goes to other government entities such as cities and schools. Of the top 10 most populated counties in Iowa, Dallas County has the lowest levy rate. In addition to that, the other nine counties in the top 10 have additional revenue in the form of either a local option sales tax or gambling revenue that helps to offset expenses. Dallas County is a low-tax county.
Dallas County is a blessed county to have phenomenal growth with no end in site. Dallas County is fortunate to have so many fiscally conservative citizens and elected officials. However, Dallas County must add space to provide the required services. I hope that Adel city leaders and the county board of supervisors come together soon to develop a plan that keeps our taxes low and accommodates our rapidly growing county. I look at the August 6th election referendum defeat as an opportunity for more citizens to come to the table and share in a reasonable thoughtful approach on how to best address our growing needs.
Chad C. Airhart
Dallas County Recorder