Here's the impact for the county's homeowners
Trying to find an easy way to explain how Iowans are taxed can seem like trying to catch smoke.
Thanks in large part to the state legislature, which tries to make everything fair - or at least as complicated as possible.
You may have seen a decrease in your withholding tax, but things have a way of catching up with you whether you pay the IRS, the governor or the county board.
According to Karen Strawn, the county's efforts have been stymied by a variety of factors, the biggest being an estimated 28-percent devaluation in agland, so the burden on residential property is going up... perhaps by about 20 percent.
Holding down budgets has been paramount for the Buena Vista County Supervisors this season, they say, but with a 30-percent increase in health care costs and fuel, steel and other commodities going up, taxes will take a hit nonetheless.
Where the ag land class paid 41.1 percent of last year's asking, due to de-valuation, this year they will only account for 31.4 percent. The residential class paid 29.6 percent last year, this year that increased to 34 percent of the total asking.
Overall, the county board of supervisors is asking for a 6-percent increase in tax revenue over the current year.
"Different classes of property will feel the 6 percent increase differently because of the shift in valuation between the classes," Strawn said. "Residential has increased but so has commercial and industrial classes."
What does this mean for the average household?
This year, like every year, things are changing, not always for the better, but with prices for insurance and commodities going through the roof, that average household shouldn't look for a lot of good news - county residential taxpayers are going to pay more taxes for the services they receive.
Using round numbers, our example is a homeowner in Alta whose home is valued at $100,000 and appraised at that rate for fiscal year 2003-2004.
Say our example house in Alta appraised value has increased by 10 percent or $10,000. On top of this is a state residential equalization increase of 7 percent mandated countywide. Now our house is appraised at $117,700 for FY 2004-2005. Got that?
And thanks to the state legislature trying to keep everything fair, and the ag land de-valuation, our house is going to be assessed at 48 percent of $117,700 or actually taxed on $56,496 value, thanks to a rollback by the state. Last year the rollback was 51 percent.
That homeowner will pay $398.69. That's at an urban levy rate at 7.05702.
So, with a boost in valuation, comes a boost in taxes.
"What's causing the 20-percent rise in residential class taxes?" Strawn asked rhetorically. "It's the approximate 28-percent devaluation in ag land and the 6-percent increase in the tax asking by board."
Strawn added that "no mandated services in the county will be cut. The sheriff's department, the department of human services - offices the state mandated each county must provide for its citizens will not be cut."