The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Grass roots on sales tax is calling itself VOTE YES! For Our Neighbors

In Floods on February 6, 2009 at 12:14 pm

A grass-roots group – VOTE YES! For Our Neighbors — will stand in the flood-hit Time Check Neighborhood at 2 this afternoon to rally support for the 1-percent local-option sales tax. The tax measure is on a March 3 ballot.

Gary Ficken, a business owner and president of the Small Business Recovery Group, and Dale Todd, former City Council member and a former neighborhood president, are co-chairmen of the effort.

Friday morning, Ficken said VOTE YES! has broad support from the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, local labor unions, Access Iowa, the Next Generation Commission, an assortment of flood victims and others.

“It looks to be a pretty good cross section of folks,” Ficken says.

The central focus of the VOTE YES! campaign, he says, is getting flood victims back into permanent residences.

“We need to help get them back with their lives. We’ve got people hurting that we’ve got to take care of,” Ficken says.

No time is a good time for a new tax, but he said the sales tax is needed. It’s a proof that the local community is doing all it can for itself, which will help secure more federal and state dollars, he says.

Like Thursday’s endorsement of the sales tax from the Cedar Rapids Area Chamber of Commerce, VOTE YES! recommends that an oversight committee be created to help City Hall decide how to spend the revenue that comes from the tax. It is expected to generate $18 million to $23 million a year, city officials have estimated.

Ficken says the oversight committee would bring some consistency to the distribution of the sales tax revenue because the committee would be in place for the 5-year life of the tax, if the tax is passed. In that 5-year period, City Council members might change as city elections come and go.

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  1. Hawkeye Labor Council Supports One Percent Local Option Sales Tax

    CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – February 6, 2009 – Recognizing the opportunity area and state legislators are providing for the residents of Linn County to help their neighbors, we support our brothers, sisters and community as a whole in reclaiming our economic vitality. Many of them are our own members, our family, and our friends.

    “After listening to the facts regarding the shortfall of monies for both Linn County and the many flood victims; after listening to the facts regarding how federal and state monies are allocated and dispersed to the cities and their victims, and after listening to the fact that the only other avenue to raise the type of monies needed would be to raise property taxes this is a very important initiative.” said Al Hartl, Hawkeye Labor Council Executive Board Trustee and RWDSU Local 110 President.

    It was Labor that helped build the city of Cedar Rapids and we whole heartedly encourage Labor to come together once again in the rebuilding during this time of great need.

    We will be working with a grassroots organization, VOTE YES! For Our Neighbors to further the passing of this referendum.

    Hawkeye Labor Council is a coalition of unions, and is the official organization of the national AFL-CIO in East Central Iowa. Representing 7 counties (Linn, Iowa, Benton, Buchanan, Cedar, Delaware and Jones), one goal of the organization is social and economic justice; seeking to promote legislation that will enable the government to be responsive to the needs of working people and their families.

  2. If the Hawkeye Labor Council supports this that is reason enough for all of us to oppose it. They ought to take at look at the cause of the pre-flood shortfall of monies and what the collective bargaining employees role in that is.

  3. You have called my CELL PHONE twice today. That is against the law and I am filing a complaint with the FCC about you. You have also lost my vote.

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