Councilman makes his pitch to Governor for backfill
Matthew Kuhn made his pitch recently, and he appeared to find a sympathetic ear with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds.
Kuhn, a New Hampton City Council member and the IT director at Homeland Energy Solutions, told Reynolds it's vitally important for the state to continue to provide "backfill" dollars to city.
"If that disappears," Kuhn told the governor after she toured Homeland's ethanol plant, "it's going to have drastic affects on cities like ours. We need that help from the state or we are going to have to cut services and I believe we are already running a pretty tight ship."
Five years ago, when the Legislature and then-Gov. Terry Branstad enacted sweeping property tax reform, part of the bill provided state "backfill" dollars for cities.
The idea was that money would keep cities from raising property tax rates to make up for the loss of revenue.
But as the state's budget has hit tough times, some legislators believe the backfill needs to go.
Reynolds, though, said she won't support the complete elimination of the program.
"I certainly understand where you and your city is coming from," Reynolds said to Kuhn, "and we need to be responsible with this."
She said she would consider a "phase out" of the program, but she said she wants cities to have time to plan for the loss of revenue.
"We can't just cut it off,” she said, "and again, I would use the word responsible. If we do it, we have to do it gradually, we have to give cities times to prepare for the loss of the funds.”
The amount of “backfill” a city receives fluctuates from year to year and is bases on a formula that takes a variety of factors into consideration.
For more of this article, see Tuesday's Tribune.