Eldon gets a second chance to pass local option sales tax

On election day, Eldon was the only community in Wapello County not to pass the one-cent local option sales tax, which allows the city to use funds for things like water and sewer repair and property tax relief.

The measure was narrowly defeated by only two votes, and city officials say that could be due to the fact that the measure was on the back of the ballot in November, which 86 voters in Eldon left blank.

The Wapello County Supervisors have granted Eldon a special election to be held in March, where the tax will be voted on again.

If the tax doesn't pass the second time around, Eldon will lose out on the funding the local option sales tax provides.

"This tax is important to the city of Eldon because it amounts to about $92,000 of our budget," said Mayor Shirley Stacey. "And what we hope the citizens realize is that Eldon may go back to a 6% tax, but the rest of the county will still be charging that 7% tax, and Eldon will receive none of that local option sales tax."

That means that if residents do any kind of shopping outside of town, but still in Wapello County, like in Ottumwa or Blakesburg where the tax is at 7%, they will still pay that extra penny, but Eldon will not benefit from it.

Mayor Stacey said the tax is especially important for Eldon. Because the area has few businesses, the city needs the local option sales tax as an alternative revenue source. This is not a new tax, but a renewal, and Eldon residents have been paying the tax for ten years now. If the measure fails to pass, that reduction in taxes will go into effect in January of 2014.

The city is hopeful the tax will pass this time and is spending more time and effort on educating the public on what the tax is all about. A group of supporters will be going door-to-door talking about the measure and the city hopes to hold a public forum for citizens with questions sometime in February. She also said having the tax as the only measure on the ballot in March will also help reduce confusion as well.

The special election is set to be held March 5 from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. at Eldon Library Hall.