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Mason City voters not convinced raising their taxes a good idea, vote down new levy

John Lee’s pleas to voters to OK a new tax property owners resulted in low voter turnout and defeat of the proposal.

MASON CITY – Voters in Mason City were not swayed by pleas from council members, Mayor Eric Bookmeyer and the Globe Gazette that raising their own taxes was a bright idea, and shot down a proposed new tax.

For the last several weeks, council members pleaded with citizens to approve a new tax, dubbed the “Capitol Improvement Levy.” As usual, the Globe Gazette chimed in, supporting city hall’s idea. The argument was that approving the new tax on property owners (of up to 67.5 cents per $1,000 of property valuation) would allow city hall to buy items such as lawnmowers with “cash” instead of bonds, which carry interest costs and fees for issuing them.

“I believe the financially prudent thing to do is to pay with cash as often as we can, so vote yes,” councilman John Lee pleaded. All 6 council members and the mayor were in favor of the new tax.

In the end, however, only 12.6% of voters showed up to cast a ballot. The measure was defeated 1,119 (in favor) to 1,310 (opposed).

However, city hall will still have plenty of money to spend.  Due to increased valuations gained by sending assessors to Mason City properties, city hall stands to gain at least $800,000 per year. Projected revenues to be collected on taxes levied on city property is up dramatically, from about $13.9 million in 2016 to over $14.7 million in 2018.

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