Rod Sullivan, Supervisor, Johnson County, Iowa

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February 2, 2017

Sullivan’s Salvos     2/7/17

In this edition:

*A Reminder…
*Flag Burning
*Bowl For Kids’ Sake
*Free Tax Help!
*Did You Know?

*A Reminder…
The plaque at the base of the Statue of Liberty reads: "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

*Flag Burning
         Iowa City made national news the other day when a FedEx delivery driver stopped a group of protesters who were burning an American flag.

         Is burning a flag a good way to win friends and influence people? No. Is it legal? Yes, it is! Unlike many of the actions of our new President, flag burning is Constitutionally protected! A Muslim ban, on the other hand, is not!

         Ask yourselves: should we be focused on the LEGAL acts of a few people desperate for attention, or the ILLEGAL actions of our government?

         So remember – while flag burners are idiots, be careful what you wish for. The next protest the Fed Ex Man decides to break up might be yours!

*Bowl For Kids’ Sake
I chose to get involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters' Bowl for Kids' Sake because too many young people are struggling at school and at home. But kids served by Big Brothers Big Sisters get great results!

  • 98% of our Littles have avoided the judicial system
  • 63% of our Littles feel more socially accepted
  • 76% of our Littles have increased their scholastic confidence
  • 92% of our Littles who did not believe they would finish high school before meeting their Bigs now believe they can and will
  • 63% of our Littles who did not believe college was an option before meeting their Bigs now hope to attend and believe they can graduate from college
  • 69% of our Littles have improved their grades from the time they began meeting with their Big
  • 47% of our Littles have improved their sense of risk behaviors and do not approve of their peers engaging in risky behaviors
  • 65% of our Littles have improved their relationships with their parents or caretakers
  • 47% of our Littles have improved their truancy from the time they began meeting with their Big.

We can keep this going. Help me reach my Bowl for Kids' Sake goal by making a donation today. Your donation will help change a child's life for the better, forever.

         We are putting the final touches on the FY18 budget, and I thought it made for a good time to revisit the subject of property taxes.

The total property taxes you pay is a function of several factors:

1.   Value of the property: The Assessor for your jurisdiction determines how much a given property is worth. The property then receives an assessed value.

2.   Classification of the property: A given property is classified into one of several categories. With a few minor exceptions, taxable properties are classified as either Agricultural, Residential, Commercial, or Industrial.

3.   Levy rates: Each taxing jurisdiction has a levy rate for Ag, Residential, Commercial, and Industrial. The rate for each jurisdiction is applied.

4.   Credits/rollbacks, etc.: There are occasional credits and rollbacks that artificially adjust the taxes due on certain taxable properties.

So, you take the value of the property, times the total levy rate for that class of property for each jurisdiction. Then apply any rollbacks or credits, and you have your total amount of property taxes due.

         The taxing bodies do not have as much control over property taxes as you might think. Assessors value and classify the property. The state determines credits and rollbacks. All the taxing bodies control are the levy rates.

The Levy Rate in Johnson County has only increased 14% in ten years! That is an average of 1.4% per year – well below the average rate of inflation (2.0%) for the same period.

*Free Tax Help!
VITA Tax Clinics provide trained student volunteer tax preparers from the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business to people who, in 2016, earned less than $55,000. Last year VITA volunteers filed 1,300 tax returns for Johnson County participants, with Federal refunds totaling $1,900,000.

VITA is a partnership among Johnson County Social Services, the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, Iowa City Public Library, Iowa City Community School District, and United Way of Johnson County.  The program is funded by Johnson County and ISED Ventures, an Iowa asset development organization that creates opportunities for low- and moderate-income Iowans to achieve financial stability. ISED receives funding for this program from the Department of Human Services and the Internal Revenue Service.

VITA Tax Clinics will be offered at the following locations (appointments are not necessary):

Iowa City Public Library, 123 South Linn Street; Saturdays (11 am to 5 pm), January 28, February 4, April 1 and 8; Sundays (12:30 pm to 4:30 pm), January 29, February 5, 12, 19 and 26, March 5 and 26, April 2 and 9; Mondays (5:45 pm to 8:45 pm), April 3 and 10; Tuesday (5:45 pm to 8:45 pm) April 11; Wednesdays (5:45 pm to 8:45 pm), January 25, February 1, 8, 15 and 22, March 1, 8, 22 and 29, April 5 and 12. Spanish interpreters are available at the Sunday clinics.
Southeast Junior High, 2501 Bradford Drive, Iowa City; Sundays (1 pm to 4 pm), February 12, 19 and 26, March 5. Interpreters available by appointment only
Northwest Junior High, 1507 8th Street, Coralville; Mondays (6 pm to 9 pm), January 30, February 6, 13 and 20. Spanish interpreters are available at this site.
Garner Elementary, 80 Birch Court, North Liberty; Mondays (6 pm to 9 pm), February 27, March 6, 20 and 27. Interpreters available by appointment only.

To schedule an interpreter or to request an interpreter for a language other than Spanish (including sign language), contact An Leonard at 319-356-6090 at least 4 days in advance.

For more information on these free tax preparation sites, call the United Way toll-free at 2-1-1 (from a landline telephone) or 1-866-469-2211. Or visit the Johnson County website at

*DID YOU KNOW?  The designer of the current United States flag was 17 at the time, and created it for a high school project. He received a B-.

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.

If you do NOT want the weekly E-mail, simply reply to this message, and type "unsubscribe" in the subject line.

If you know anyone else who might be interested, just forward this message. They can E-mail me at with "subscribe" in the subject line.

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



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