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Tag Archives: Taxes

The Alliance & Chamber encourages voters to say “Yes” on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.



The Board of Directors of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber encourage the voters of Black Hawk County communities to renew  the one-cent Local Option Sales Tax on the ballot on Tuesday, November 5th.


Since 1991, the communities of Black Hawk County, with voter approval, have collected a one percent sales and service tax on qualified purchases. Waterloo and Cedar Falls have consistently used the revenues from this sales tax for the construction and repair of streets. Both cities have again pledged to use the revenues in a similar manner if the tax is reauthorized. Other cities have also used the revenues for key attributes, while others have reduced property tax burdens.


The sales tax has produced notable results. For instance, in Cedar Falls and Waterloo alone, since the tax program’s implementation, hundreds of miles of streets have been reconstructed, overlaid, or seal-coated; and many railroad crossings have been replaced.


The sales tax is imposed by local governments on goods and services sold within Black Hawk County. Out-of-county purchases generate an estimated 35% of the tax revenue.


The Alliance & Chamber encourages government at all levels to monitor operations continuously to discover ways to reduce property tax, sales and service tax, and other fees that are ostensibly taxes imposed on business and residents. However, we recognize that the revenues from this sales and service tax are used for key infrastructure for economic growth and a satisfactory quality of life, and there are established oversight committees established to review the proposed uses of the tax revenue.


Therefore, the Board of Directors of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber endorses the renewal of the one-cent Local Option Sales and Service Tax in Black Hawk County. The Alliance & Chamber encourages voters to say “Yes” on Tuesday, November 5, 2013.

Approved by the Board of Directors, during its regular meeting on October 1, 2013.


Steven J. Dust



Alliance & Chamber Seek Investor Input to 2014 Legislative Policy Agenda

As the Government Relations Committee begins deliberating on the 2014 GCVAC Legislative Policy Agenda, I want to extend a special invitation to an Investors’ Legislative Issues Forum on Monday, September 16, 2013 at the Hilton Garden Inn in Cedar Falls from 8:00-9:00 am. This year, the Alliance & Chamber is offering an opportunity for investor involvement in legislative priority identification through this forum. Please come to hear from other investors what is on their minds as we begin crafting our 2014 agenda. Our hope is that this forum will give us an important head start and strengthen our efforts in identifying and prioritizing issues important to business in the Greater Cedar Valley as we build the Alliance & Chamber’s legislative agenda for the next session.

The October 11 Friday Forum will be at the Five Sullivan Bros. Center and the November 8 event will be at the Waterloo Center for the Arts.

Iowa Property Taxes Reduced for Commercial & Industiral Tax Payers

The persistence of Iowa commercial and industrial property owners finally paid dividends in a reduction in your property tax burden! After several tries over the last decade, the legislature and Governor came to agreement on the start to property tax reform, and provided modest tax reduction at the same time.
We appreciate those of you who contacted your legislators, encouraging them to finally act on an inequity in the tax system that has persisted – and has been an impediment to economic growth –  for far too long.

While not all was achieved that we were looking for – the rate of rollback is much less than the original proposal –  it is a start. Beyond this, it may provide the motivation for a reform of the entire system in years to come.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, through its Government Relations Committee and our director of governmental relations Steve Firman, collaborated with a coalition that included the Iowa Chamber Alliance, Iowa Association of Business & Industry, Professional Developers of Iowa, and Iowa Taxpayers Association to continually impress upon our elected officials the need for this change.

Conference Committee Report for SF 295 – Property Tax


Division I—Business Property Tax Credit (“Senate Plan” element)

  • Creates a Business Property Tax Credit for property taxes due and payable in fiscal  year 2015.
  • $50 million is appropriated in fiscal year 2015 to the Business Property Tax Credit  Fund
  • $100 million is appropriated in fiscal year 2016
  • $125 million is appropriated in fiscal year 2017
  • $125 million every year thereafter
  • Each person who wishes to file a claim will obtain a form from the County Assessor.
    The  form does not have to be filed again until the property is sold or transferred.
  • The state will use the money appropriated into the Business Property Tax Credit Fund to reimburse local governments the amount of credits issued.
  • When fully phased in, at least $145,000 of property value on every business would   be equal to the residential rollback
  • Total Fiscal impact to local governments is $16 million when fully phased in.


Division II —Property Tax Assessment Limitation and Replacement (“House Plan” element)

  • Assessment growth limitation moves from 4% to 3% on Ag and residential immediately.
  • Commercial and Industrial will assessed at 95% of valuation starting January 1, 2013; at 90% starting January 1, 2014; and is frozen at 90% thereafter.
  • The State will appropriate money for replacement of the lost revenue. Payments will be made by IDR to county treasurers:

FY 15 $78.8 million (includes multi-residential)

FY 16 $162.8 million (includes multi-residential)

FY 17 $154.1 million (does not include multi-residential and capped at this level

going forward)


Division III—Multi-residential Property Classification

  •  Creates a new property classification: Multi-residential
  •  Multi-residential will include apartments, nursing homes, assisted living facilities , and  certain other rental property
  •  The existing classifications are Residential, Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial
  •  Multi-residential properties will eventually equal the residential rollback after 10 years.
  •  Total fiscal impact to local governments is $85.3 million when fully phased in.

Assessment Year 2013 95%

Assessment Year 2014 90%

Assessment Year 2015 86%

Assessment Year 2016 82%

Assessment Year 2017 78%

Assessment Year 2018 75%

Assessment Year 2019 71%

Assessment year 2020 67%

Assessment year 2021 63%

Assessment year 2022 and thereafter: Residential rate


Division IV —Telecommunications Property

  • Determining the taxable value of each company stays the same
  • Each telephone company will receive a partial exemption from taxation on the value of the company’s property. This is phased in, with half in assessment year 2013 (FY 15), and the remainder being added in assessment year 2014 (FY 16)
  • Department of Revenue is directed to complete a comprehensive study of the telecommunications industry and report recommendations for change to the General Assembly

Assessed value        $0-$20M        $20-$55M        $55-$500M        >$500M

Exemption                    40%                    35%                    25%                     20%


Division V – Iowa Taxpayers Trust Fund Tax Credit

  •  Each year, beginning July 1, 2014, the balance of the Taxpayers Trust Fund exceeds $30 million a tax credit will be issued to Iowa taxpayers
  •  The tax credit will be issued to Iowans with a tax liability
  •  $60 million is the maximum amount that can flow into the taxpayer trust fund each year
  • $60 million equals a $27 credit per filer. $120 million would equal $54


Division VI -Property Assessment Appeal Board

  • Five year sunset – July 1, 2018, lower salaries, adding another appraiser to the   board (replacing the finance profession with state and local tax policy experience, allowing for a speedier hearing process.)

Division VII—Earned Income Tax Credit

  • Increases the Earned Income Tax Credit from 7% to 14% in tax year 2013; 15% in tax year 2014
  • The credit remains refundable.
  • The increase is effective retroactively to January 1, 2013.
  • Fiscal impact: $30.8 million in FY 14 , increasing to $34.5 in FY 15


Clock Runs Out on Iowa Legislature

May Update from Professional Developers of Iowa Lobbiest

Friday, May 3rd was the 110th day of the 110-day 2013 legislative session.  Pay for legislators officially stops after Friday.  Any days spent doing legislative work after that are on their own dime. 

This 16th week of the session has been the busiest in many ways as the final pieces of the legislative session are put into place.  The goal of this past week for legislative leaders has been to move all remaining contentious issues – and there are a lot of them – into conference committees for further negotiation.  Typically, legislation rarely advances to a conference committee, the format used when the House and Senate are not able to find compromise language through the typical amendment process.  This year, they will have at least 9 bills in conference committee. 

 The beauty of the conference committee is that the final product that comes out is not amendable (unless it’s voted down, and then the process gets uglier).  Each chamber will simply have a yes or no vote on each of the conference reports.  In situations where the majority party in each chamber has a very small margin (like this year’s 26-24 in the Senate and 53-47 in the House), a small group of majority party members in a chamber could hold out for their own specific priorities.  By using the conference committee process, they can bypass that possibility.


Currently in Conference Committee:

Education Reform, Property Tax Reform, Justice Appropriations,Economic Development Appropriations, Education Appropriations, Ag/Nat Res Appropriations, Admin/Reg Appropriations, Medicaid Expansion, Health Appropriations, Heading to Conference, Standing Appropriations, Infrastructure (RIIF) Appropriations.

Another benefit to using conference committees to enact legislation, and particularly the budget, is that a chamber cannot add a provision into a conference committee discussion that was not in either the House or the Senate’s bill.  This year, the House and Senate each passed essentially their wish lists for each budget bill and will negotiate which portions of each bill to accept.

Unlike previous conference committees in previous sessions, this year’s conference committees will need to wait until the House, Senate and Governor can agree on an overall spending number for the next fiscal year.  This will require first knowing whether property tax reform will advance to enactment or fall short like it has in so many sessions past, and whether or not Iowa will expand Medicaid or pursue a different option.

Once the legislative leadership and the Governor reach overall agreement, the conference committees will convene and each come to agreement on their individual bills.  Then, at long last, the Legislature will adjourn sine die for the year.


IEDA Funding – Still In Jeopardy  

As the Legislature officially starts the overtime period, it is absolutely critical that you don’t let up on your emails and phone calls.  They are working!  Whether final adjournment occurs this week (there IS a chance) or not for over a month, PDI members’ efforts to weigh in can greatly affect the outcome.

The Economic Development Budget is currently in conference committee.  They will negotiate, among many other things, the IEDA Administration Budget and the IEDA Incentives Fund (which the House funded out of the Infrastructure Budget bill).

  •   The Governor and the Senate provide roughly $18 million for IEDA Incentives and $16 million for IEDA Administration. 
  •  The House proposes $15.1 million for IEDA Incentives and $13.2 million for IEDA Administration.

In the days ahead, PDI members should CALL OR EMAIL legislators and ask them to support $18 Million for IEDA Incentives and $16 Million for IEDA Administration. Then, find 2 or 3 other people on your board, in your office or elsewhere in your work arena and ask them to email as well.  If each legislator gets a handful of emails on this issue, it will make a HUGE difference.  Do this TODAY!

A full update on all bills can be found using the BILL TRACKER



Dust Optimistic About Cedar Valley Economy – Part 2

View the three part video of Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber on KWWL’s Steele Report.

Click Here.

Dust Optimistic About Cedar Valley Economy – Part 1

View the three part video of Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber, on KWWL’s Steele Report here.

Click Here.

Dust comments on Deloitte study of Iowa’s competitiveness

In a recent Courier article Steve Dust, CEO of the Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber and chairman of the Iowa Chamber Alliance commented on a recent study performed by Deloitte Consulting LLP.

The study was commissioned by ICA in hopes to provide the Legislature and policy makers current  information about where Iowa lines up competitively with the study’s benchmark states. Read the entire Courier article by Jim Offner here.

Iowa Chamber Alliance study finds Iowa’s economic development toolkit effective, but under resourced

The study rates Iowa’s competitiveness with its neighbors and other highly competitive states in economic development programs

View study here

Des Moines, Iowa – The Iowa Chamber Alliance, a non-partisan coalition representing the 16 largest chambers of commerce and economic development organizations throughout the state, released today a new study examining Iowa’s relative competiveness in its economic development efforts. Deloitte Consulting LLP was commissioned to examine the competitiveness of Iowa’s state-level economic development incentives.

“This study confirms Iowa’s approach to economic development incentives is on the right track, but it also demonstrates that Iowa does not resource its economic development incentives at a competitive level,” said John Stineman, Executive Director of the Iowa Chamber Alliance.

The Deloitte study found that Iowa lags only behind Texas in the “usability” of its economic development incentives – an important factor in how a state measures up in competing for economic development investments. Texas is widely considered one of the most aggressive states in economic development in terms of its incentive funding, its programs and its business-friendly tax and regulatory climate.

However, on the financial value side of economic development – the ability to impact projects through financial incentives – Iowa lags significantly behind its neighbors as well as other leading economic development states.

“It is clear Iowa punches above its weight class in economic development. The approach and programs we have are working and the proof is in the projects. The question is, how many projects are we missing out on because we simply do not resource economic development efforts at a competitive level?” said Stineman.

The study examined Iowa’s economic development programs and funding compared to five other states: Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, South Carolina and Texas. South Carolina and Texas are consistently ranked as highly competitive states for economic development.

Other key findings of the study include:

  •  Iowa is at a competitive disadvantage in the availability of discretionary funds to help close deals as well as in offering corporate tax exemptions.
  • Iowa performs at peer level in property tax exemptions, sales and use tax exemptions, and research and development tax credit programs.
  •  Iowa has a competitive advantage in its workforce development incentive programs.
  • Other states have caught up to and begun to pass Iowa in data center and technology incentive programs – an area where Iowa was considered a leader previously.

“Iowa has a solid base of state-level economic development incentives tools upon which to build. However, to become more competitive, Iowa may wish to increase the funding level and flexibility of some of the State’s key incentive programs” states Darin Buelow, a Principal with Deloitte Consulting LLP.

  • The recommendations from Deloitte Consulting include:
  • Consider increasing the cap on Iowa’s economic development tax credits
  • Evaluate options to offer a “Deal Closing Fund” or more discretion to the Iowa Economic Development Authority in awarding direct financial assistance
  • Consider allowing the sale, refund or transfer of economic development tax credits
  • Consider expanding the Brownfield/Grayfield Redevelopment Tax Credit program
  • Consider augmenting Iowa’s data center incentives.

“The opportunity is there for Iowa. We are well positioned to compete – if we resource our economic development efforts at the right level. We also need to review our programs to ensure we have usable and valuable incentives to help Iowa continue its economic growth in the future,” said Stineman.

For more information about the Iowa Chamber Alliance’s positions and legislative agenda, please visit www.iowachamberalliance.com. Copies of the study will be made available upon email request to john@iowachamberalliance.com.

About the Iowa Chamber Alliance

The Iowa Chamber Alliance’s mission is to put forth and enact an agenda to grow the state’s economy through support of proactive programs that stimulate economic growth opportunities for the entire state and its residents. The Alliance members include chambers and economic development organizations in: Ames, Burlington/West Burlington, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, Des Moines, Dubuque, Fort Dodge, Iowa City, Marshalltown, Mason City, Muscatine, the Quad Cities, Sioux City and Waterloo/Cedar Falls.

View the study here

The Business Case for Education Reform

By John Stineman, Executive Director, Iowa Chamber Alliance

The 2013 legislative session presents many opportunities for business —  property tax reform, economic development incentives, transportation infrastructure to name just a few issues that perennially top the agenda of Iowa’s businesses and economic development community.  Standing atop these important issues is education reform.


Yes, business considers education reform to be at least as important as the other core issues within our policy agendas.

The fact of the matter is that Iowa’s once vaunted public education system is no longer as competitive as it was just half a generation ago.

It’s not so much that Iowa has gone backward as much as it is that the rest of the country has improved at a far greater pace.  We used to be at or near the top and now dwell in the lower end of the middle of the pack.

From a strictly business perspective, we must address education reform because of Iowa’s growing skills gap.  Today in Iowa about 18% of available jobs are considered to be “low skill,” but about 38% of the available Iowa workforce is classified as “low skill.”  Middle skill job openings represent half of all open positions in Iowa, but only one-third of available workers are considered to be middle skill.

The skills gap is real, it is growing, and, unfortunately, our education system today is not geared to address it.

Beyond the immediate workforce needs, consider our education outcomes today.  36% of the “Class of 2012” that went on to higher or vocational education after high school required some sort of remedial education after high school.  This is stark evidence we are not systematically equipping our kids with the knowledge and skills they need to succeed after high school.

Of course, it’s not just about the skills gap or what kind of access employers need to qualified workers.

It’s about Iowa’s kids.  It’s about our kids and grandkids.

We’ve all chosen to live in Iowa, to raise our families here.  Making sure our kids have access to a quality education that will help prepare our kids to compete in a global economy and pursue their dreams is among our most important duties.

That’s why education reform is so important.

The reforms proposed by the Governor and now being vetted by the Iowa House of Representatives are a solid start on turning the tide for Iowa’s schools.  The reforms bring with them substantive changes that will fuel teacher leadership from mentor teachers and teacher leaders to drive innovation and energy into subject matter teachers.

The proposal elevates the profession of teaching – increasing first year pay and providing a longer student teaching period so new teachers can hit the ground running when given their own classroom.

The reform proposal expands online learning opportunities by bringing students from across Iowa together to learn online from Iowa teachers in districts that offer subjects not offered in other districts.

Teacher accountability is also important.  A statistic often cited at the Capitol is that 98% of Iowa teachers receive favorable reviews.  While there are many, many quality teachers across Iowa, it is simply not realistic to believe that only two in every 100 are in need of improvement.  Evaluations must include student performance as well as peer reviews and other measures.

The Iowa Chamber Alliance is supportive of the reforms proposed and interested in other ideas that will help improve Iowa’s schools as well.  We are hopeful partisan differences and political arguments can be set aside so that meaningful reform can be achieved.

There is simply too much at stake for us not to succeed in improving our schools.  It truly is the most important thing we can do this session.

For more information, please contact Iowa Chamber Alliance Executive Director, John Stineman, at (515) 226-1492 or john@iowachamberalliance.com.

The Greater Cedar Valley Alliance & Chamber is an active member of the Iowa Chamber Alliance. Alliance & Chamber CEO Steve Dust is the current Chair of ICA board of directors. Steve Firman, Alliance & Chamber Director of Gov’t Relations is also on its board.




Governor to Visit Cedar Valley

“Our Opportunity. Our Iowa.” Govenor Branstad’s Condition of the State Tour/ Cedar Valley Stop
01.24.13, 8:15 am, Five Sullivan Brothers Convention Center

All Alliance & Chamber investor/members are encouraged to demonstrate the strength and vitality of the Cedar Valley business community and hear about the issues that affect you and your business by attending this special event, Thursday, January 24th. The public is invited to attend.


  • Providing Property Tax Relief
  • Making our Schools the Best in the Nation
  • Improving Iowa’s Quality of Life

Registration is appreciated. Click here.

Read the Govenors 2013 Condition of the State Address

“Our Opportunity. Our Iowa.” here.

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