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Bill from May special election causes frustrations

Published: Friday, July 12, 2013 3:23 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, July 12, 2013 3:43 p.m. CST

It was an expensive special election.

The May special election about repealing local option sales taxes (LOST) in Clarke County may be over, but it's still causing some financial frustration.

"My thought is that the cities are getting dumped with this, with the bill, which is $10,000 (for this) election," Mayor Fred Diehl said during a Clarke County Reservoir Commission (CCRC) board meeting July 11. "And yet, we had nothing to do with it, other than we had to vote and pay for it. I think some way or another, the cost ought to be spread throughout the whole county on this. I don't know how you do it."

Diehl is a CCRC board member. He represents the city of Osceola on the board.

Reservoir project

When it came down to it, the May special election was about water, or more specifically, how to pay for a lake project.

An ongoing CCRC watershed project will provide a water supply for Osceola and Southern Iowa Rural Water Association (SIRWA) with an 816-acre lake in Clarke County.

The reservoir project could provide 2.2 million gallons of water per day. The total project cost for the reservoir is estimated at $37.6 million. Funding for the project includes many sources, especially funding from LOST.

Special election

The May special election was scheduled after enough signatures were collected from a petition signed by Clarke County residents.

The issue on the ballot was about repealing LOST. This included the already implemented LOST of 2008 with the city of Woodburn, LOST of 2009 with the city of Osceola and LOST of 2010 with the city of Murray.

Only citizens of those three cities could vote in the election, not residents in the rural areas of the county.

Indirectly, what the May special election boiled down to, was whether or not a person was in favor of the CCRC lake project.

If a person was in favor, he or she had to vote "NO" to repeal LOST because the funding will help pay for the proposed lake.

If a person was against the proposed lake, he or she had to vote "YES" to repeal LOST.

The results in the special election to repeal LOST were NO: 611 to YES: 119.

Costs

The cost of the election was approximately $10,000, and payment was divided between Woodburn, Murray and Osceola.

The total bill for Woodburn was $647.10, Murray was $1,298.97 and Osceola was $7,680.81.

"Like Fred said, we didn't have anything to do with it," said CCRC board member Harold Allen Jr., who represents the city of Woodburn on the board.

Allen said he recently met with Woodburn City Council to discuss their bill.

He said he suggested Woodburn City Council table paying the bill and discuss it with the county supervisors.

"Woodburn's not very big — a little over 200 people," Allen said. "That means each individual down there is going to have to skip lunch that day to pay this bill, and we had nothing to do with it. And, it certainly didn't benefit us, other than we got a second opinion on a vote."

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