Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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March 8, 2009

Sullivan’s Salvos 3/10/09

A sure sign of global warming: the annual blizzard that accompanies the Iowa Girl’s High School State Basketball Tournament came down as rain.

I want to begin this edition of Salvos with a mention of one of my favorite events (and a sure sign of spring!)

The 26th annual Prairie Preview is on Tuesday, March 10 at Parkview Church. (Please note the new location!)

The keynote speaker is Dr. Bill Zales is a retired college botany professor, now prairie restorationist and open lands advocate. Dr. Zales will speak about the Loess Hill’s unique geology and biology both past and present, explain the successes and failures of their protection, and how optimism must prevail if what little native habitat remaining is to be protected.

The Prairie Preview program includes information and displays from your local environmental organizations and agencies. Doors open to the public at 6:30 p.m. with Dr. Zales speaking at 7:30; refreshments will be provided following his presentation. Contact Tammy Richardson (319) 857-4741 for additional information.

You have probably heard the tempest surrounding the recent Local Option Sales Tax vote. I thought I would share my perspectives.

First, as you probably know, Iowa law is a bit odd in this situation. It allows a municipality with 50% or more of the population of a county to call a sales tax election in that county. Since Iowa City has roughly 68,000 of Johnson County’s roughly 130,000 residents, Iowa City has the ability to call an election. They did so, and an election will be held May 5.

The odd part is that State law gives the responsibility for setting a sunset date to the Board of Supervisors. It would seem that if the city can call the election, they could also set the terms of that election, but that is not the case.

So, Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, and other cities contacted Johnson County and requested a 5-year sunset. After two long meetings worth of debate, Johnson County voted 3-2 for a 4-year sunset.

Where did 4 years come from? A couple Supervisors had been leaning toward 3 years, but wanted to make any vote to renew the tax line up with the next Presidential election. So 4 years was chosen.

Supervisors Meyers, Harney, and Stutsman voted for the 4 years. Supervisor Neuzil voted against the measure (I believe he wanted a 3-year sunset); I voted against the measure because I felt the cities ought to have an opportunity to ask the public for the 5 years they were seeking.

Then the Board needed to vote on the uses of any County sales tax revenue. Again, the vote was 3-2, with Supervisors Meyers, Harney, and Stutsman voting to spend 50% on roads and bridges and 50% on property tax relief. Supervisor Neuzil voted against the measure (I believe he wanted 100% property tax relief); I voted against the measure because I think replacing property taxes with sales taxes has the effect of shifting the cost of government to people with less money.

(Obviously, I am treading into dangerous territory by trying to explain the votes of any of my colleagues. I can tell you HOW they voted, but they need to tell you WHY. If you have questions as to what an individual Supervisor was thinking, I strongly urge you to contact her or him.)

I have written at length on sales taxes in previous editions of Salvos. There will be more to come in a future edition. Meanwhile, let’s continue to focus on process.

While Supervisors disagreed on these votes, I do believe the Board is unanimous in feeling as though the needs of County government are largely being ignored by the cities. Obviously, this is not good. There is some serious work to be done between local governments to heal the wounds that exist. This may be even more difficult now in light of this vote; I do not know. I just know that we need to talk.

I hope local governments can have some meaningful conversations very soon. The public deserves governments who work together for the collective good.

For the past five years, the Iowa City Human Rights Commission has recognized activities performed by local youth that promote and/or contribute to Human Rights in the Iowa City area and abroad.

Activities that the Commission is aware of that would be worthy of an Award include, but are not limited to:

*Collecting money for a Human Rights related organization/cause
*Organizing a Human Rights related activity
*Collecting food/clothing/personal hygiene items for local or national organizations

Students should not be nominated for participation in class activities or pre-organized events. However, any additional activity that comes as a result of a class activity or pre-organized event would be a welcome nomination. Nominations will be accepted until 5 p.m. on April 10, 2009.

For additional information or nominations forms, please visit or call 356-5022.

DID YOU KNOW? 80% of plastic water bottles are not recycled, meaning 1.5 million tons of plastic waste annually. (Source: Physicians for Social Responsibility.)

Anyone interested in learning more about County government should take a look at the County website- .

"Sullivan’s Salvos" is sent once per week to any interested party. It will give a brief update on issues of interest to Johnson County residents.

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As always, feel free to contact me at 354-7199 or I look forward to serving you!



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