The Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors on Thursday unanimously endorsed the 1-percent local-option sales tax on the March 3 ballot.
Allen Witt, chairman of the Chamber’s board, said about 30 board members participated in the vote. He also said the board had polled some of the 1,600 business members of the Chamber, and that the poll showed “strong” support for the tax.
In Cedar Rapids, the City Council will use 90 percent of the revenue from a local-option sales tax for flood recovery, 10 percent for property-tax relief if the measure passes..
“The Chamber understands this is part of our effort of neighbor helping neighbor and it is a critical time in our history,” Witt said last night.
He said the sales tax will provide revenue for the city’s acquisition of flood-damaged homes and for future flood protection. The tax also will help the city make the case for federal and state funds because it will show the city is doing what it can to help itself, he said.
The endorsement comes with a caveat: The Chamber board also calls for the creation of a community oversight committee to monitor the distribution of the sales tax revenue in Cedar Rapids if the tax passes.
Witt called that oversight committee a “strong recommendation,” though he noted that the state of Iowa collects the tax and distributes to the governing jurisdiction. In this instance, the city of Cedar Rapids would have to agree to such a community oversight arrangement.
Witt said the Chamber board also supports Vote Yes for Our Neighbors, a grass-roots group that has formed to promote the local-option sales tax in Cedar Rapids. Gary Ficken, a businessman who is president of the Small Business Recovery group, and Dale Todd, a former City Council member, are leading the grass-roots group.