The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber will host an Investor Legislative Forum to gain input from investors on legislative issues of importance to Cedar Valley businesses. The Investor Legislative Forum will be held on Wednesday, September 21, 2016 from 8:00am to 9:00am at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center, Waterloo. State level issues requiring action in the upcoming session will be presented at the session by Alliance & Chamber.
Prior to the start of each Iowa legislative session the Alliance & Chamber establishes a legislative agenda. The Cedar Valley Legislative Agenda for Economic Progress contains actions that will improve the Cedar Valley business climate and quality of life, and address specific issues for business. Throughout the year, the Alliance & Chamber tracks and brings to the attention of its investors’ issues that have an impact on their bottom line. Investors in the Alliance & Chamber are invited and encouraged to help shape the Agenda by participating in the Investor Legislative Forum.
There is no cost to attend, but an RSVP is appreciated by contacting Sandi Sommerfelt at 319 -232-1156 or email@example.com. The Alliance & Chamber offers this opportunity exclusively to its 800 investor businesses & organizations and community partners. Registration deadline is September 13, 2016.
The Alliance & Chamber provides OneVoice for Cedar Valley businesses and institutions by advocating for economic growth policies and business climate improvement at the local, state and federal levels. For more information on advocacy initiatives of the Alliance & Chamber, contact Steve Dust at 319-232-1156 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Cedar Valley of Iowa) Cedar Falls Community Schools proposes to fund upgrades at North Cedar and Orchard Hill elementary buildings and build a new elementary school in southwest Cedar Falls at a total cost of $32 million. The board also reinforced the district’s and superintendent’s design of the programs to provide the benefits of the Career-Technical curriculum to students throughout the Cedar Valley. The Board of Directors of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber voted unanimously during its January 5th meeting to endorse the proposal by the Cedar Falls school district.
Cedar Valley Wide Impact
The Cedar Falls’ CAPS program will easily transfer credit to Hawkeye and UNI degree programs. This is important to ensure the student can seamlessly continue work toward a degree, obtaining the most current knowledge in the field, and entering the career field at the most opportune time for the student. It also defines clear career pathways for the student, and a quantifiable pipeline of candidates for jobs in the Cedar Valley.
The Alliance & Chamber board believes the taxpayers should approve this proposal. Business and education must work together to ensure continuing growth in our economy, while preparing smart, knowledgeable, engaged citizens. This proposal, well executed, will do both. Plus, a smooth transition to Hawkeye and UNI is precisely what students need to minimize their cost and time spent preparing for a great career in the Cedar Valley.
Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Chairman David Braton recapped the discussion of the board, stating, and “Workforce development is critical to the growth of the Cedar Valley. The Alliance & Chamber applauds Waterloo and Cedar Falls Schools staff and school board for taking these bold steps to give our students the best education in a changing world. Workforce development is the key to our economic success.”
Vote “Yes” on April 5
The Alliance & Chamber encourages all voters in the Cedar Falls School District to view these initiatives favorably, and as investments in the future generations of Cedar Valley citizens.
Please vote Yes on Tuesday, April 5 for Cedar Falls’ Elementary Construction & Upgrades Plan.
Cedar Falls CAPS and Elementary School Construction Program
Usually, the Alliance & Chamber would not publicly endorse proposals for specific elementary school construction and expansion programs. This time, however, it is important to underscore that modern education requires attention to facility upgrades at all levels of education. Cedar Falls’ student population is projected to increase significantly over the next decade, in contrast to many other locations that are projecting shrinking elementary populations. Cedar Falls’ growth has generated the need for additions onto some schools to eliminate trailer-like, temporary classrooms. The need to add flexibility in the use of the space and install advanced technologies infrastructure in all schools combines with District growth to be sound reasons to support this proposal. During the presentation, the Alliance & Chamber Board focused first on the implementation of the Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) initiative, and immediately connected success in CAPS at the high school level with the need for modern elementary and middle school facilities.
The mission of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is to increase economic vitality and wealth by leading collaborative economic and community development. Details about the many programs and initiatives of the Alliance & Chamber can be found at www.cedarvalleyalliance.com or by calling Steve Dust, CEO at (319) 232-1156.
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber encourages our investors and business owners in the Cedar Valley to contact Senators and encourage them to pass the bill regarding Business Tax Coupling.
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is closely watching legislation that would allow coupling of Iowa state taxes with federal tax law under Section 179 to allow tax deductions for equipment purchased, certain investments made, and particular individual deductions claimed by businesses in 2015.
Here are some of the items that will not be eligible for a deduction on your Iowa taxes if the Iowa Senate does not act:
Small business equipment purchases (including business vehicles, computers and office furniture)
IRA contributions to charity
Gain from qualified small business stock
Basis adjustment for S corporation charitable contributions
Built-in gain tax five-year recognition period
Educator expense deduction
Qualified tuition deduction
Conservation easement deductions
Deduction for food inventory contributions
The bill has already passed the Iowa House (House File 2092) and is now being considered by the Iowa Senate. Please contact your Senator and encourage them to pass this bill that would couple state and federal tax policies to allow for these business deductions.
Branstad, Reynolds Announce 2016 First-Time Home Buyer Tax Credit Program
Mortgage Credit Certificates to provide Iowa home buyers with up to $2,000 in annual federal income tax credits
(DES MOINES) – Gov. Branstad and Lt. Gov. Reynolds at their Monday morning press conference today announced that eligible Iowans can now buy a home and reduce their federal income tax liability by up to $2,000 a year for the life of their mortgage through the Take Credit mortgage credit certificate program administered by the Iowa Finance Authority. Approximately 780 home buyers are expected to benefit from the program in 2016, which is now available for new purchases through a network of lenders throughout the state.
“The Take Credit program will not only make home ownership more affordable for first-time Iowa home buyers, but it will also provide an economic boost to Iowa communities,” said Governor Branstad. “This program has the potential to keep $1.5 million in hard-earned income in Iowa, income that would otherwise be spent on federal taxes.”
The program provides eligible home buyers with a tax credit against their federal income tax liability every year for the life of their mortgage. Eligible homeowners may take fifty percent of their annual interest paid on the mortgage loan, up to a maximum of $2,000 per year, for up to 30 years. The remaining mortgage interest may be taken as a deduction from taxable income if the home buyer itemizes.
“Home ownership plays a critical role in both the quality of life for Iowans and our economy,” said Lt. Governor Kim Reynolds. “This program is a win-win for Iowa home buyers and the state of Iowa. I encourage all Iowans planning to purchase a home in the near future to look into this opportunity as well as the Iowa Finance Authority’s mortgage and down payment assistance programs.”
Eligibility for the Take Credit Program requires home buyers to meet household income and purchase price limitations and meet the definition of a first-time home buyer. The federal income limits vary by county and household size, currently ranging from $67,500 to $115,220 per year. A purchase price limit of $258,000 applies statewide with the exception of federally Targeted Areas where the limit is $316,000. A first-time home buyer is defined as someone who has not owned their primary residence in the past three years but also includes home buyers purchasing in a federally Targeted Area and qualified veterans who have not used tax exempt mortgage financing previously.
“Interested home buyers can apply for a mortgage credit certificate through a Take Credit Participating Lender as part of their financing process. Home buyers will need to have approval of the mortgage credit certificate before they close on a home so they should ask their lender about this opportunity early in the application process,” said Iowa Finance Authority Executive Director Dave Jamison.
After an eligible, pre-approved homeowner has closed a mortgage loan with an IFA Take Credit Participating Lender, IFA will issue the homeowner a mortgage credit certificate. The homeowner in turn may apply the credit against their federal income tax liability on an annual basis for the life of their mortgage. The credit may be claimed on IRS Form 8396.
The mortgage credit certificate was authorized by Congress in the 1984 Tax Reform Act and capacity for the program is derived from an annual allocation of tax-exempt bond volume cap from the U.S. Treasury Department. The 2016 Take Credit Program has an allocation of private activity bond volume cap sufficient to issue mortgage credit certificates for mortgages totaling approximately $80 million. The certificates are available on a first-come first-serve basis and the program will be closed for further reservations once available funding has been exhausted. More information is available at IowaFinanceAuthority.gov/TakeCredit.
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber held a Cedar Falls Mayoral Candidates Forum on Friday, October 23st at the Cedar Falls Tourism Visitors Center to give investor businesses the opportunity to understand each candidate’s position on issues that affect the economy including business climate, workforce, and quality of life.
Specific topics raised included: University Avenue, the downtown waste water treatment facility, the use of Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) as an economic development tool, a part-time vs. full-time mayor, and more.
“The Alliance & Chamber serves as the one voice for business in the region. We advocate for the concerns of business at the local, state, and national level. We provide opportunities for education on issues, interaction with officials, and encourage our investors to participate in the process,” says Steve Dust, CEO of the Alliance & Chamber.
All three candidates participated in the Cedar Falls Forum including: businessman Jim Brown, incumbent Mayor Jon Crews, and retired railroad management employee Dave Halterman.
Each of the mayoral candidates made a brief opening statement. Moderator Steve Firman, Director of Alliance & Chamber Government Relations, then directed questions from the audience to the candidates.
In his opening statement Jim Brown shared his three-point platform of business development, good communication, and strong leadership. He pointed to his success launching a technology startup and in talent recruitment for John Deere as valuable experience that will help him market the city to new business and talent. Brown noted that the University Avenue project will likely move forward as approved by the current council.
Jon Crews bases his campaign on ‘facts and real numbers.’ He points to reduced residential and industrial tax rates, and quality of life and amenities as hallmarks of his tenure as mayor. Crews believes the use of roundabouts on University Avenue will reduce accidents and save lives.
Dave Halterman was a critic of the University Avenue reconstruction plan and outlined seven ways he believes the project could be handled more efficiently. He sees University Avenue as the ‘present and future of tourism and business development in Cedar Falls.” He believes the opportunity to increase the tax base is ‘bleak.’
Brown did not comment on the issue of the downtown location of the waste water plant. Crews commended the water treatment department for their efforts to mitigate the odor issue and noted that new development has continued despite the location of the plant. Halterman criticized the way EPA requirements for run-off into sanitary sewers are being addressed.
Brown supports the use of TIF. He believes it puts the City in a position of strength when negotiating with prospective businesses. Crews cited the City’s successful use of TIF and believes it should not be restricted. Halterman pointed out that residents should benefit from development in lower taxes or increased services.
Crews would support a part-time mayor position if the people voted for it, but believes a balance between strong elected officials and professional staff is best. Brown sees no reason to reorganize the structure of Cedar Falls government and believes the council should decide if the position of mayor should be reduced to part-time . Halterman voiced opposition to a city manager position saying that the people have no recourse from the ballot box. He believes the mayor is the ‘elected CEO’ of the community.
A forum participant asked the candidates how they would make decisions when their own convictions differ from the opinions of constituents.
“If I can see something that save lives, save injuries, and saves tax payers money, then I think the elected officials need to vote their conscience.” responded Crews, “If you do what you think is right and you can sleep at night then that is what you should do.”
Halterman believes leadership should concede to constituents. “Anything else,” he stated, “is arrogance.”
“There is a responsibility of a leader to lead, to communicate, to let folks know where you stand, “said Brown. “ But you also have to respect the process, which in our city is the council. The council is the power behind the process. The decision makers have to come to a consensus. Consensus means you don’t get what you want, but you are both moving the ball forward”
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber held a Waterloo Mayoral Candidates Forum on Wednesday, October 21st at the Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center to give investor businesses the opportunity to understand each candidate’s position on issues that affect the economy including business climate, workforce, and quality of life.
Forty-five business leaders and community members attended the forum. Specific topics raised included: the “ban the box’ proposal that would require employers and landlords to remove questions about felony convictions from initial applications, public safety, the Waterloo Regional Airport, University Avenue, the Hwy. 63/Logan Plaza corridor, and economic development tools and assets.
“The Alliance & Chamber serves as the one voice for business in the region. We advocate for the concerns of business at the local, state, and national level. We provide opportunities for education on issues, interaction with officials, and encourage our investors to participate in the process,” says Steve Dust, CEO of the Alliance & Chamber. “These candidate forums are designed for our investors to become better informed during a very busy legislative and election year.”
All five candidates participated in the Waterloo Forum including: City Councilman Quentin Hart; former three-term mayor Tim Hurley; Black Hawk County Supervisor Frank Magsamen; business owner and member of the city’s Planning, Programming and Zoning Commission Leah Morrison; and business owner Wayne Nathem.
Each of the mayoral candidates made a brief opening statement. Moderator Mike Mc Crary Chair of the Alliance & Chamber Government Relations Committee, then directed questions from the audience to the candidates.
In his opening statement Quentin Hart –outlined his five point platform focused on safer streets, economic development, neighborhood empowerment, creating a positive image and a 2025 vision plan for the future. He sees University Avenue as an opportunity to grow business. He points to the completed projects along the Hwy. 63 corridor and stresses an equal approach to economic development and redevelopment throughout the city. Hart cites the level of education of our people as the city’s number one economic development asset.
Tim Hurley cast his vision for Waterloo as “a city where capital, people and business come and want to stay.” He would accomplish this through strong economic development, efficient delivery of city services, and improved city image. If elected Hurley would strive to negotiate a fair price with the DOT and others on the transfer of University Avenue and its modernization. While Hurley would not “mess with TIF” he would examine how its use in the Crossroads retail area. Waterloo’s legacy of making products and the work ethic of its population are on his list of economic development strengths.
Hart and Hurley both acknowledge the need for a full-time economic developer to increase business growth and expansion.
Frank Magsamen described his goal to hire a professional city manager as seen in many large Iowa communities, moving away from the current mayor-led form of government. He sees University Avenue as a long-term project requiring more study. Magsamen believes existing business expansion is the best opportunity for economic growth. He also suggests limiting Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) to 10 years. He considers the quality and quantity of water as one of Waterloo’s key economic development strength.
Wayne Nathem says his military and business background prepared him to lead the city. He would examine each department to cut costs. Nathem is adamantly opposed to roundabouts citing they ‘increase response time for emergency vehicles. He is also opposed to bike lanes and feels pedestrians are not a major concern on University Ave. He suggests a stronger relationship with Iowa Economic Development Authority to increase new business investment in Waterloo.
The basis of Leah Morrison’s message is in lowering taxes, lowering the levy rate, and limiting the use of TIF. She stresses the importance of having all stakeholders involved in University Avenue decision-making. Morrison suggests an “all hands on deck” approach to redevelop Logan Plaza, an area where she would support a generous use of TIF. She would like to position Waterloo as a convention hub which in turn would increase traffic at the airport.
All candidates agree that the mayor’s office should support and equip law enforcement and that collaboration of community organizations needs to increase to make Waterloo safer. Building trust between the people and law enforcement is a priority of all candidates.
Hurley is the lone candidate who opposes the current ‘ban the box’ proposal stating that process should slow down in order to hear from the business and professional community.
(Read more on this in Tim Jamison’s Courier article here)
Investors have the opportunity to meet the Cedar Falls candidates in a similar forum on Friday, Oct. 23, at 7:30am at the Cedar Falls Visitors Center.
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber supports the comprehensive facilities plan proposed by the Cedar Falls Community School District, and encourages patrons of the district to support this important program at the polls on Tuesday September 9.
Businesses and institutions of all types and sizes rely on modern infrastructure to encourage and accommodate economic growth and job creation. Perhaps as in no time in the past, the quality of educational content and experience delivered in advanced school facilities is critical to the continuing strength of our economy. Our Cedar Valley regional school facilities must lead in design, features and amenities to help our students become leaders in educational preparation and attainment.
This is true throughout the Cedar Valley economic area. We have all seen tangible and intangible benefits from the building program financed by the Local Option Sales Tax over the last decade. Now, it is essential that our educational facilities at all levels prepare students for the emerging jobs and challenges of community citizenship of tomorrow.
We point out that this is precisely the kind of investment that must be made now to ensure that our students can take advantage of the opportunities of the future economy. Our businesses are particularly sensitive to increases in property taxes given the disproportionate burden placed directly on commercial and industrial property owners and indirectly on their tenants. For us to see the advantages to these investments in school facilities, we also recognize a huge return on these investments – a return that comes in the form of more successful teacher recruitment and retention, and student preparation and achievement. We must see the plan helping to “fill the pipeline” with graduates well-prepared to assume highly productive roles in the future economy. We currently have a skills mismatch, and a shortage of talented people for new jobs that rely on “brainpower” and soft skills. Students with rounded educational experiences highlighted by hands-on experience, and achievement in sciences, technologies, mathematics, as well as the arts and the interpersonal skills are and will be needed. We must make these key investments to provide the best environments in which knowledge and skills are learned and attract the highest quality educators.
But schools facilities construction programs cannot be executed outside the parameters we expect of any public investment in infrastructure or service. Further, with many school districts and institutions within the Cedar Valley examining capital and facilities programs and financings, we must insist on consistency in evaluation of the proposals and value delivered to the taxpayers, as well as the students of our regional districts and institutions.
We believe that the plans must take into account the most modern design and service delivery models feasible.
The plans must be comprehensive and consider new partnerships with other educational institutions and districts, fulfilling its obligations to the patrons of the specific school district or constituency while maximizing collaboration, coordination and minimization of duplication among neighboring school districts and higher educational institutions in programs, human resources, curriculum, and services.
The plans must have been vetted by the patrons in a manner to elicit and consider the spectrum of views on feasibility, financing mechanisms, and impact on their community, in order to establish credibility for the amounts needed to implement modern, and indeed, futuristic facilities expansion, repurposing, and replacement programs.
The Cedar Falls proposal meets these criteria and the expectations of our economy.
The district has been very good stewards of the patrons’ funds, maintaining a very low tax rate as compared to similar sized districts
The district has not asked their patrons to approve a bond issue for facilities in nearly 40 years.
The plan replaces facilities for rational reasons: the new facilities replace obsolete designs that can no longer be modified and upgraded to meet modern standards; landlocked facilities are moved to larger sites where future needs can be anticipated and addressed; and facilities are located where population growth is occurring and anticipated in the district.
The plan was vetted by District leadership internally and with significant community involvement, review and comment.
We encourage businesses, parents and all patrons of the Cedar Falls Community School district to support the bond referendum on Tuesday September 9.
DES MOINES, IOWA – Iowa Workforce Development announced today that employers will see approximately $108 million dollars in tax savings by moving from tax table six to table seven. The last time unemployment insurance taxes were this low was 2002. The average rate will fall from 1.6 percent to 1.2 percent for 2015.
“Due to Iowa’s strong economic condition, Iowa employers will see significant tax savings,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad. “Today’s announcement is yet another indication that Iowa is working.”
This marks the fourth year in a row of employer tax reductions. Since the announcement of Tax Table 4 for calendar year 2012, businesses have saved over $409 million in tax payments.
“Iowa continues to demonstrate stability within the Unemployment Insurance Trust Funds and has moved the tax rates in a positive direction for businesses four years in a row,” stated Iowa Workforce Development Director Teresa Wahlert.
Under Tax Table 7, the new employer non-construction rate will be 1.0 percent in 2015, the lowest permitted rate by federal law.
“The people of Iowa have our commitment to carefully manage the trust fund in the coming year to continue this beneficial trend for Iowa businesses. Iowa has one of the lowest UI tax rates in the nation,” stated Wahlert.
Iowa Workforce Development is the state agency charged with collecting unemployment insurance taxes from employers and operating Iowa’s unemployment insurance payment programs for workers. Annually, Iowa Workforce Development identifies the appropriate table for the following year. Unemployment tax rates are based on wages and recent unemployment benefit payments.
“Governor Branstad and I are pleased to announce that the unemployment insurance tax for employers has dropped to a 12-year low,” said Iowa Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds. “The progress we’re making in growing Iowa’s economy has meant a reduction in the tax tables for four straight years. This news, along with the fact that over 146,000 jobs have been created since 2011, shows the Iowa continues to move forward.”
Due to the design of Iowa’s unemployment tax system developed under Governor Branstad’s administration in the 1980’s and Iowa Workforce Development’s diligent oversight of the UI Trust Fund throughout the national recession and recovery, Iowa businesses will benefit with an average decrease in taxes.
Throughout the state, Iowa Workforce Development provides critical services and resources to support the prosperity, productivity, health and safety of Iowans and their communities. Services are available in 15 regional centers, four satellite offices and hundreds of Virtual Access Points.
An Equal Opportunity Employer/Program Auxiliary aids and services are available upon request for individuals with disabilities.
A subcommittee was held on Wednesday, January 22 to discuss HSB 508. HSB 508 requires county assessors to notify taxpayers when the Department of Revenue issues an equalization order. Currently the assessor must publish notice in the newspaper. The Chairman of the subcommittee, Representative Chip Baltimore, stated his support of the bill as a way to provide additional transparency to taxpayers. The legislation also eliminates the public notice provision since every taxpayer would be notified. The Iowa League of Cities and Iowa Newspaper Association are opposed to the bill. All other parties, including ABI, are currently registered “undecided” or “neutral” on the legislation. If you have feedback on this legislation, please contact Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber Director of Government Relations, Steve Firman, email@example.com.
Through January 15, 2014, property owners can apply for a property tax credit on industrial, commercial and railroad classed parcels.
One credit is available for each qualified propertyunit. A property unit consists of contiguous parcels of the same classification that are owned by the same person and operated by that person for a common use and purpose.
A property owner need only fill out the application once as it will be applicable in subsequent years. If a property owner misses the January 15, 2014 deadline they can apply in subsequent years.
The links above takes you to an online form and information provided by the Black Hawk County Assessor Tami McFarland. The contact information for assessors in other Cedar Valley counties is provided below. Simply change the name of the county in “Jurisdiction.”
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber was part of an effective coalition that included the Iowa Chamber Alliance, Iowa Association of Business & Industry (ABI), Professional Developers of Iowa (PDI), and Iowa Taxpayers Association to achieve property tax reduction for all commercial and industrial property owners.
Be part of something greater - The Cedar Valley of Iowa
The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is a regional economic community development corporation working to increase economic vitality and wealth in the Waterloo / Cedar Falls area and surrounding economic region. The Alliance & Chamber has approximately 800 members that represents over 40,000 employees