Local option sales tax on the mind of city leaders

City leaders in Ottumwa know how important it is to get the local option sales tax passed on the November ballot.

Leaders within the City of Ottumwa know how important it is to get the local option sales tax passed in the upcoming general election, however, many residents are still confused on what the funds would go towards if it was passed again.

If approved, the funds would go towards street repair and reconstruction costs as well as sewer repairs. Some of the money funded through the sales tax would also go toward property tax relief.

One big concern among many leaders, both within the city and community is that if the proposal is not passed, attracting more businesses to Ottumwa could become difficult, being that improvements to roads and bridges would not be done as quickly.

One benefit that residents of Ottumwa should realize, according to the city, is that when someone from out of town comes to Ottumwa and spends money, the tax from that purchase stays in the community.

"According to our finance director, about 20% of that money comes from outside the area, outside of Wapello County, outside the city; that could help repair our streets. They are (visitors) using the streets; why not have that money available? They are contributing to the need for repairs and reconstruction," said Joe Helfenberger, City Administrator for Ottumwa.

Helfenberger says that prior to the local option sales tax, about one mile of Ottumwa's roads were being repaired of reconstructed, compared to the four miles being completed today.

The League of Women Voters will be having a forum on November 1st in the Ottumwa City Council Chambers concerning the upcoming election. The local option sales tax is one item that will be discussed during that forum.