Friday News, April 5
County and City Leaders Discuss Local Option Sales Tax
(Le Mars) -- Local Option Sales Tax was the topic of discussion last evening when civic leaders from the Plymouth County municipalities met with members of the Plymouth County Board of Supervisors. The group discussed the one percent sales tax and whether a vote should be conducted in early August to continue the tax. Half of the county, including the communities of Kingsley, Merrill, and Hinton originally approved the vote without a sunset clause back in 1998, while other communities such as Akron, Remsen, and Le Mars did not approve the Local Option Sales Tax until 2001. For those communities that passed the measure in 2001, the current local options sales tax expires in December of 2016. The meeting was organized to discuss the future of the tax, and in particular, with Le Mars wanting to pledge current and future funds for the Floyd Valley Hospital expansion project.
County Supervisor Jack Guenthner coordinated the meeting and explains why the city of Le Mars would like to see an early vote before the current tax expires.
Because some of communities passed the original Local Options Sales Tax without a sunset clause, Guenthner says not everyone in the county will need to vote in August on the measure.
As a result of the discussion, Guenthner says the civic and county leaders basically came to one general consensus.
In addition to assist in the funding of the hospital expansion, the supervisors have stated they wish to devote some of the Local Option Sales Tax funds for road and bridge repair, so property owners would not see an increase in their tax levy. Le Mars mayor Dick Kirchoff attended last evening's meeting. He says he was pleased to see all the communities come together without dissention.
The voters will see the issue on a special election scheduled for August 6. But is that enough time to drum up the necessary support for the continuation of the Local Options Sales Tax?
Drought Recedes In Southeast Iowa
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Officials say nearly 7 percent of Iowa is no longer in drought.
The Iowa Department of Natural Resources says in a report issued Thursday that conditions have returned to normal in a swath of southeast Iowa. The U.S. Drought Monitor map from the National
Drought Mitigation Center shows the drought conditions are worse to the northwest, culminating in extreme drought in portions of northwest Iowa.
The drought center says that a year ago nearly 61 percent of Iowa had no drought.
March rain in Iowa was a drop or two higher than the historical normal of 2.15 inches. It was the fourth consecutive month for higher-than-normal rainfall in the state.
Branstad Unveils More Details of Health Care Plan
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - More details are available on Republican Governor Terry Branstad's health proposal for low-income residents.
Legislation for Branstad's Healthy Iowa proposal came out Thursday. The plan would cover an estimated 89,000 residents with incomes below the poverty line.
According to the bill, participants would have access to a primary care doctor within 30 minutes or 30 miles of their home.
Branstad has proposed this plan because he opposes the Medicaid expansion permitted under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul. Branstad says the long-term costs are unsustainable.
The Democratic-majority Senate has passed a bill that would expand the Medicaid program in Iowa. In a statement, Democratic Sen. Jack Hatch says Branstad's proposal doesn't cover enough and
will cost more than a Medicaid expansion.
Branstad's proposal will now be debated in the House.
Several Bills Don't Make It Through Second Funnel
DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - One of the bills that appears to be dead in the Iowa Legislature this week is an effort backed by Gov. Terry Branstad to crack down on online bullying.
Branstad says Thursday he's still hopeful there might be action on the issue during the legislative session, but the cyberbullying bill did not survive a procedural deadline.
While major initiatives like health care, education policy and property tax reductions remain alive, a variety of other proposals appear dead this session.
Among them are bills that would require schools to test for radon, mandate suicide prevention training for teachers, make the names of gun permit holders private and make it harder for
government officials to seize land for the development of lakes.
Iowa City Schools Improving Security
IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) - Iowa City's school district is improving security at all its school buildings.
The nearly $5 million plan will focus on increasing communication within and between schools for the Iowa City Community School District. It will improve locks on classrooms and other school doors, as well as improve security camera systems.
The school board approved the safety and security plan for 27 buildings on Tuesday. Some security
improvements will begin immediately. Other projects will start this summer.
Ice Jam At Cedar Rapids May Cost $20,000
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (AP) - Authorities say property damage to a Cedar Rapids harbor from a recent ice jam will be between $20,000 and $25,000.
The Cedar Rapids River Recreation Commission says Thursday the ice broke electrical poles at the Ellis Boat Harbor on the Cedar River and forced crews to make service repairs to connect boat
Bids for the electric repair work will go out in May. They plan to have the work completed by
Memorial Day in time for boating season.
The ice jam along the Cedar River flooded some residential streets last month in Cedar Rapids. Officials say ice jams are common, but rain and melting snow in the region at the time made it
a difficult case.
Stolen Tortoise Returned To Museum
DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) - An 18-pound African leopard tortoise who went missing from an Iowa museum has been found alive in an elevator in the building.
Officials at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium in Dubuque believe the tortoise named Cashew was stolen, but that the thief quietly returned the animal.
The museum says a visitor found Cashew on the elevator floor Thursday. She appears to be in good health.
The museum discovered Cashew was missing Tuesday from an exhibit with a 4-foot glass wall. Museum officials suspected she was taken as a prank or to sell.
Museum officials are reviewing surveillance video to try to figure out exactly what happened and find a possible suspect.
Nervous Bank Robber May Get 10 Years In Prison
WATERLOO, Iowa (AP) - Court documents say a Waterloo man who robbed a bank in 2011 was so nervous about the act he accidentally demanded $80 from the teller instead of $80,000.
Thirty-year-old Kurtis Culbert submitted a series of notes to Black Hawk County District Court before pleading guilty last month to second-degree robbery.
Culbert says he was ordered to rob the bank by individuals he knew when he served time in prison. He says he was shaky when writing a holdup note and the teller misread his request for
The teller at the U.S. Bank branch in Waterloo read $80 in the note and gave it to Culbert. He left and was later arrested.
Culbert faces up to 10 years in prison when he is sentenced.
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