Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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January 16, 2015

Sullivan’s Salvos     1/20/15

In this edition:

*Free Tax Help!
*Real Economic Development
*Human Services Funding
*Bowl For Kids’ Sake
*Share Your Voice – Girl’s Leadership Conference
*Did You Know?

*Free Tax Help!
         Johnson County is once again providing free tax help to anyone earning under $53,000 annually.

There are four locations throughout Johnson County that provide FREE Tax Preparation Services. The sites are Iowa City Public Library, South East Junior High in Iowa City, North West Junior High in Coralville, and Garner Elementary in North Liberty.

Please see the County website ( for schedules. Spanish translators are available at the two University of Iowa VITA locations. For translation assistance for other languages (including sign language) at any of these four sites please contact 356-6090 Monday through Friday 8 – 4:30 at least two business days in advance of the tax help session you would like to attend.

         Again, for dates, as well as frequently asked questions, please see the Johnson County Social Services website at:

*Real Economic Development!
         This appeared in Salvos back in September, but it bears repeating as we approach tax season.

*What if I told you we could bring in 50 full-time jobs that would pay $15 per hour?

         *What if I told you these jobs could neither be outsourced overseas nor subcontracted?

*What if I told you those jobs would be filled by hard-working low-income people, all of whom are local?

*What if I told you NO bribery (aka “tax incentives”) would be required to land these jobs?

*What if I told you there were no special workforce training programs required?

*What if I told you virtually ALL of the money earned would be spent locally?

         What would happen? Well, the Chamber of Commerce would put it in their newsletter, and the Ambassadors would do a ribbon cutting. Debi Durham would come over from Des Moines and do a big press event, and the Governor just might join her. ICAD would tweet this success to the world. Mayors would grab gold shovels and pose for a photo. You might get a visit from a US Senator. The Press Citizen and Gazette would both do front page stories. The Corridor Business Journal would write a nice editorial. The region would be hailed for its forward thinking, and folks would talk far and wide about how well we do economic development.

         So what if I told you the exact equivalent has already occurred? It has.

         Several years ago, I went to a National Association of Counties (NACo) conference and learned about a program that had started in Cook County, Illinois.

         As it turns out, a huge number of low-income workers leave money on the table when it comes to the federal income tax system, particularly the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). Cook County created a series of free tax clinics to ensure this money returned to their county.

         I did some investigating, and it just so happened that Johnson County had the same problem, though obviously on a much smaller scale.

         So I pushed for Johnson County to begin a free tax help program. It struck me that we had a potential partner in the Tippe College of Business, and as luck would have it, I could not have had better timing. Dr. Joyce Berg was ready to greatly expand the work her student tax preparers would do. It was a perfect fit.

         Former Supervisor (and current Legislator) Sally Stutsman was very supportive. Amy Correia had just been hired as Johnson County’s first Social Services Director, and Amy took the ball and ran with it, including securing grants to cover all operating costs. The Tippe College, ICCSD, United Way, Iowa City Public Library, and many others have become valued partners. In recent years, current Social Services Director Lynette Jacoby has maintained and improved upon all this success.

         What are the results? The Free Tax Help Program brings over $1.5 million into the local economy every year. It goes to low-income local workers, who spend it locally. And it uses no local tax dollars.

         Remember when I said “50 full-time jobs at $15 per hour”? That adds up to a $1.5 million annual impact, just like the Free Tax Help Program. But the Free Tax Help Program is actually even better, because it serves over 1,100 Johnson County tax filers and their families!

         Economic Development can take many forms. I happen to believe the Free Tax Help program has contributed a lot of good things to the local economy. We have not had any fancy groundbreakings or ribbon cuttings, but we have accomplished something!

         So if you know Lynette Jacoby, thank Lynette Jacoby. She has done great work! If you know Joyce Berg, thank Joyce Berg. Her students have given much more back to this community than they could ever take.

*Human Services Funding
On December 23, the Johnson County Board of Supervisors approved a total of $60,000 in Emergency/Innovative Flexible Funding awards to seven area organizations. Twenty-one proposals were received, totaling $297,769 in requests for funding.

The Emergency/Innovative Flexible Funding awards are intended to assist with short-term or one-time needs of organizations. Funding may support capacity building, sustaining of services, innovative new programming or the purchase of equipment/supplies. Priority is given to proposals that address emergency needs, health services and/or improve the physical/or emotional well-being of Johnson County residents most in need and address gaps in services in the county.
The following projects were awarded funding:

• Crisis Center of Johnson County: $5,250 for a collective purchase of food for various Johnson County food pantries

• Domestic Violence Intervention Program: $8,250 for window replacements at the shelter

• Elder Services: $6,000 for congregate and homebound meals to seniors

• Free Lunch Program: $3,500 for food and other operational supplies

• North Liberty Food Pantry: $1,000 for food stock, toiletries and cleaning supplies at the pantry to meet increased need

• Shelter House on behalf of the Local Homeless Coordinating Board: $16,000 to support the Winter Emergency Temporary Shelter

• Table to Table (Grow Johnson County): $20,000 for the start-up community garden project at the County Poor Farm

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors is committed to supporting social services programming in Johnson County, this year alone allocating $1,183,412 in grant funding that addresses basic human needs, health, and child and family well-being.

*Bowl For Kids’ Sake
         We will once again be Bowling For Kids' Sake! I hope you will either sponsor our team or enroll your own. The 2015 Bowl For Kids’ Sake event will be February 28-March 1, and is presented by University of Iowa Community Credit Union.

Through Bowl For Kids Sake, one of the area's oldest and most successful fundraisers, you'll be making a real difference in a child’s life--both now and in the future. Raise pledges for BBBS mentoring programs, and we’ll thank you with free BBBS t-shirts, a free round of bowling and shoe rental, music, door prizes, and more. (It’s kind of like a big party that’s being thrown in your honor.)

Even better, you’ll be rewarded by becoming a partner in the effective, reliable, and sustainable services provided by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Johnson County.

         For more info, see:

*Share Your Voice - Girls Leadership Conference
The Share Your Voice - Girls Leadership Conference is Saturday, February 7, at the Double Tree Cedar Rapids Conference Complex. Cost is $15 girl registration;  $10 adult registration.

The conference objective is to encourage and inspire girls and give them confidence to take on leadership roles, set goals, learn about media, politics and understand the power of being a GIRL.

         For more info:

*DID YOU KNOW?  There is an important meeting on Monday, January 26 at 4pm at Harvat Hall in Iowa City. At this meeting, Iowa City, Coralville, North Liberty, and Johnson County are all reporting on their individual plans to address affordable housing.

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.

These messages come solely from Rod Sullivan, and neither represents the viewpoints of the whole Board of Supervisors nor those of groups or individuals otherwise mentioned.

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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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