Voters to decide on city tax in Mason City in special election

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(ABC 6 News) – In just under two weeks, Mason City will be holding a special election.

On the ballot will be a measure to continue the Local Option Sales and Services Tax, or LOSST.

LOSST has been around in Mason City for many years and every so often is has to get renewed by the voters. But this go-around has one change: This one won’t expire and will have to be voted on again to be repealed. But some voters still don’t even know what lost is.

LOSST is a 1 percent tax on certain sales and services purchased that are then allocated to the city for specified uses.

It’s pretty common around the state of Iowa, but a vital source of revenue for the city. All those things that we come to count on are funded by the local option sales and services tax.

Mason City resident Joseph Hause plans to vote yes on LOSST come Election day.

“Well, I think it’s important to put more back into the community and I think the things that, you know I would generally speak for myself and say. I would appreciate the things that Mason City is doing to modernize itself,” Hause said.

But Hause wishes that the city was clearer on what LOSST is.

The funds will be split up in three ways.

50 percent will go to property tax relief.

One reason for this measure is to save property owners money. The city projects that for a home that’s worth one hundred thousand dollars, the homeowner would save roughly 175 dollars a year. Since 2014 it has saved people 26 million dollars.

“That’s a quantifiable number that we can tell people that having this in place saves on property taxes,” City Administrator Aaron Burnett said.

40 percent of funds would go to physical improvements. These include things like parks, streets, sidewalks, and storm sewers. And in the current economic climate, the city needs help funding those projects more than ever.

The cost of those continues to increase year after year after year. Construction continues to be more and more expensive.

And then the last ten percent will go towards the city’s general fund. Which included but was not limited to the police and fire departments and recreation programs.

“Public safety goes without explanation they are vital and they do an amazing job at supporting our community. And then recreation services help take care of our youth and provide them opportunities to grow and develop,” Burnett said.

With all the things LOSST will help fund, Hause was glad to see that improving what he says is a historic part of the city is on the list.

“I mean anything they can do to improve East park, which is I mean a big center of the community,” Hause said.

Since 2014, LOSST has saved property owners 26,006,032 dollars and have generated 52,012,064 in revenue for the city.

The special election is on Sept. 13th.