Supervisors set maximum property tax for FY24, but will likely take in less

Mar. 4—Supervisor Brandon Talsma was half expecting the chambers on Feb. 28 to be filled with hundreds of less-than-enthused citizens complaining about Jasper County raising its levy, but the room was sparse that morning and business concluded without a hitch. More importantly, the levy was left untouched.

While the board of supervisors has yet to set the levy for the next fiscal year, they did hold a public hearing to set the maximum property tax dollars that would be levied. Talsma said this is a requirement from the state, and for the past few years the county has taken less than maximum amount levied.

Although valuations have increased for all Iowa taxpayers, the county has either lowered or maintained its tax levy to take in the same amount of property tax it collected three years ago. Talsma is confident Jasper County will continue on with this fiscally conservative practice.

However, word of the public hearing to set the maximum property tax dollars spurred some confusion among citizens, prompting clarification.

"Just so everybody is clear and is maybe listening in: This is not a guarantee that this is what we will be levying. It is essentially our max levy hearing that way we're covered for whatever we do levy," Talsma said. "We do it every year. So yeah ... That's all it is. Just publishing the max that we can."

Some of the worry from citizens could be linked to a recent incident in Warren County where hundreds of residents read reports that their property taxes would be increasing by 80 percent, WHO 13′s Roger Riley reported. The Warren County Board of Supervisors held a meeting to discuss the issue.

According to county documents, the maximum property tax dollars for general county services for FY24 shall not exceed $13,993,186, and the maximum property tax dollars for rural county services shall not exceed $4,273,191. All three supervisors approved the resolution.

Newton News followed up with Talsma after the supervisors meeting to talk more in-depth about the county's tax levy. Because Jasper County has shifted to a more long-term approach and was able to drop its capital projects levy, he is optimistic the board will be able to hold the overall dollar amount the same.

"How exactly the levy rate is going to be affected, I don't know yet," he said. "We'll try to do what we've done the last three years, which is as the valuation increases we drop our levy rate down in accordance to where we're taking in pretty close to the same dollar amount we were three years ago."

The reason the county has taken this approach, Talsma added, is because if the county is going to raise property taxes it is going to be "upfront and honest about it" and explain to citizens why it is taking in more. The county is not going to "arbitrarily" take in more property taxes when valuations increase.

"I think that's the responsible way to do it and the way we're supposed to do it."

Which is a stance Talsma said he has received flak for, with some arguing that while the city and school districts took in more taxes after valuations increased the county decided not to and will inevitably have to raise its levy in the future. Talsma agreed one day he will have to, and he will be upfront about it.