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Round 2: Marion, Hiawatha, Robins, Center Point dust themselves off

The Marion City Council will discuss tonight whether to put a local-option sales tax back on the ballot, perhaps as early as August.

Officials in Robins, Hiawatha and Center Point are also looking at such a move, after residents in those towns rejected the tax Tuesday.

The Hiawatha City Council met last night.

“We’ll talk about it for sure,” Hiawatha Mayor Tom Theis said Wednesday. “Voters didn’t understand it at all, apparently, and we’ve got to get the message out better.”

The earliest a city council could return the sales tax to the ballot would be Aug. 4, and if not then, Nov. 3.

They could go about it one of two ways, said Sarah Reisetter, director of elections at the Iowa Secretary of State’s Office.

First, supporters could gather signatures equalling 5 percent of the number of Linn County residents who voted in the Nov. 4 election, then deliver it to the Board of Supervisors. The tax would then go on the ballot for every town that hasn’t already approved it.

Second, they could ask the Cedar Rapids City Council — which is the governing body of more tha 50 percent of Linn County’s population — to put the tax on the ballot again. That would automatically place it on the ballot for every town that hasn’t already approved it.

Voters in Marion rejected the tax 2,227 to 2,044, or 52.1 percent to 47.9 percent.

“We’re going to talk about it Thursday night at our meeting,” Marion Mayor Paul Rehn said. “I still think that our people were confused. I would like them to know exactly what the ramifications are. And if they’re happy with the way they voted, so am I.”

Marion officials think voters didn’t understand that the local-option sales tax revenue would have helped pay for the city’s sewer project, a job that will likely be more expensive when the city has to bond for it.

Robins residents barely rejected the tax, by a vote of 290 to 281, or 50.8 percent to 49.2 percent. The result was irksome to Robins City Council Member Marilyn Cook because, as she sees it, the election’s only effect is to deprive Robins of the taxes its residents will pay in Cedar Rapids anyway.

Robins has little retail shopping or commercial business.
“We voted to give our money to Cedar Rapids,” Cook said.
The City Council’s next meeting is March 17, but they may call a special session, Cook said.

Center Point is also looking into holding a second election.

“We’re probably going to sit back and see what some of the other cities do as well,” Center Point Mayor Paula Freeman-Brown said.

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One Response

  1. DJ Arnold says:

    If I lived in Marion, Hiawatha, or Robins I would be deeply offended if my elected officials said I was too stupid to know what I was voting on. BY saying that the people didn’t understand, they are calling you stupid. If they want another bite at the apple they need to gather enough signatures (not a daunting matter) to put the question back on the ballot, not whine to the CR Council to do it for them.

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