• Fri July 06 2007
  • Posted Jul 6, 2007
Council endorsed Yes to Destiny, now residents will have choice By JARED STRONG REGISTER STAFF WRITER Voters in Dallas, Polk and Warren counties Tuesday will consider a 10-year, $750 million sales tax increase that supporters say is essential to economic development in the region. The West Des Moines City Council agreed 3-2 in March to support the Yes to Destiny plan, which would pump about $25 million per year into quality-of-life attractions such as Blank Park Zoo and area bicycle trails. A 15-member appointed panel would oversee how the money is spent. Under the plan, a third of the money would go toward property tax reduction, and another third would be spent at the discretion of municipal leaders. The West Des Moines council would spend it's roughly $2.6 million annual cut on municipal improvements, parks, recreation, the library and human services. West Des Moines is seen as a key player in the tax campaign because of Jordan Creek Town Center. Taxable sales jumped 88 percent in Dallas County in the first four months the mall was open in 2004. Councilmen Ted Ohmart and Brad Olson voted against Yes to Destiny so that the city could keep more of the money of the tax increase is approved. They wanted to devote 15 percent to the appointed group, 35 percent to property tax relief and 50 percent to city priorities. "I support regionalism, and I support metro cooperation. But it's wrong to think 'If we don't support it, we kill it,' " Olson said before the March vote. "I'd love to vote for it, but I can't with the current formula." Councilwoman Loretta Sieman said the biggest issue for voters to overcome is that Yes to Destiny is a tax increase. "People are not wanting a tax, and I don't think they really believe it will relieve property taxes," she said. "What is the overriding issue we are talking about? I'm talking about the quality of life for our children." Des Moines metro-area cities already contribute money to regional attractions, such as the Iowa Events Center and Principal Park, through Bravo Greater Des Moines, an offshoot of the Yes to Destiny planners that spends primarily money for hotel taxes. If Yes to Destiny passes, cities no longer will be required to finance Bravo. Supporters tout the tax increase as a way to reduce property taxes, but opponents say sales taxes hit poor people hardest. Union official Dan Albritton said the result of Yes to Destiny would be a net tax increase for most families. More than 40 communities have signed the agreement, but four Dallas County cities and the county government have rejected the plan. If the tax increase in approved unincorporated portions of Dallas County and Adel, Dexter and Woodward would contribute 20 percent to a county authority and keep the other 80 percent. Waukee city leaders decided to keep 90 percent of the money and contribute the remaining 10 percent to regional attractions. Dallas County Supervisors voted to keep residents in the county from voting as a bloc, which creates the possibility that West Des Moines, Clive and Urbandale - all in both Dallas and Polk counties - could pass the tax in one part of the city, but not the other. Reporter Jared Strong can be reached at (515) 284-8075 or

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