That is the approach that five Linn County communities took after a local option sales tax vote failed in their communities this past March. The past week, Marion, Hiawatha, Robins, Center Point and the Linn County portion of Walford all passed the tax increase by overwhelming margins.
The reason for the “do over” is because the proponents of the tax increase thought that the voters were confused when they voted “no” in March. The Cedar Rapids City Council passed a motion following the first vote to allow the communities that initially rejected the tax increase to vote again on May 5th.
Cedar Rapids and some of the other communities who passed the local option sales tax in March did so to generate additional revenue to help with the rebuilding process from last year’s devastating floods. The communities listed above were not affected by the flood, which is why some people thought the tax increase wasn’t passed the first time around.
Voter confusion does not justify a “do over” election. Those who wanted the one-cent tax increase passed in these five communities failed to educate the voters. Yet, the Cedar Rapids City Council overruled the voice of the people and allowed for another vote. The tax proponents won the second time around.
The “do over” vote has created some drama between Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson and former US Senate candidate Christopher Reed.
Oleson posted the following on his Facebook page after the vote, “Congratulations Marionites. We passed the LOST penny and will receive $20 million over next 5 years for sewer, streets & parks. Also our sewer bills will remain static rather than double as projected. Good for Marion!!”
Oleson didn’t get a favorable response from his constituents. One person said, “This Marionite will never view a tax increase as something to be congratulated for.” Another said, “I see, if they don’t get the vote they want just keep doing it over and over until they get the vote they want?”
Oleson responded by saying, “Do you guys even do any research before you take a position? Marion pays out 13 million and receives 20 million. My sewer bill was projected to double in 4 years and now won’t. It would have been monumentally STUPID to vote NO if you live in Marion. Sometimes you can be so married to ideology that you will cut off your nose to spite your face. That is what the vote NO crowd was NOT able to accomplish tonight. Sorry some of you can’t see that.”
That comment escalated. Christopher Reed didn’t respond well to Oleson’s comment about people not understanding the reason behind the tax increase. Reed said, “I can’t believe you have the audacity to call your constituents ‘Stupid’! How elitist you have become in your time in office. This will surely be rectified come election time. I personally don’t believe that “ideology” that calls for our elected officials to fiscally responsible and prudent is “Stupid”. To pretend that OUR city will crumble without this tax increase is insane at best.”
So, while it seems like some people got the tax increase they wanted, some elected officials might have to pay a price in the future.
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