Local Option Dollars at Work in Des Moines

In March 2019, 70 percent of voters in Des Moines approved a one-cent Local Option Sales & Service Tax to be used for property tax relief, infrastructure upgrades, public safety enhancements and neighborhood improvements.

The Value of a Penny

If you take a close look at a penny these days, you might not see a whole lot. You can’t buy anything with one, we’re more than happy to leave them behind, and it costs more than two cents just to make a single penny. So what good are they?

Believe it or not, there is a lot of value in that single penny and it’s being felt these days in Des Moines.

It began last spring, when Des Moines voters turned out at the polls and overwhelmingly supported Public Measure "A"a Local Option Sales and Service Tax for the City of Des Moines. By adding just that single cent, voters put in motion a catalyst that's reversing years of inadequate resources and triggering a positive impact for decades on our City, its neighborhoods and residents.

The one-cent sales tax that took effect July 1 will generate roughly $37 million for Des Moines each year. This new money one-third of which comes from visitors to Des Moines – will make a transformative and measurable difference in our city in several ways.

Property Tax Relief
It begins with property taxes. By state law, 50 percent of this new sales tax revenue must go toward property tax relief. Those efforts are already underway. Just two days after receiving approval from voters, the City Council reduced Des Moines’ property tax levy rate to the lowest in the past seven years.

Improving Streets and Storm Sewers
Thanks to the new sales tax and the value of all those pennies, visitors and commuters now help fund much needed improvements to our City’s aging infrastructure. This includes repaving and repairing Des Moines streets as well as vital storm sewer upgrades to help keep our neighborhoods protected during heavy rain and floods.

Investing in Our Neighborhoods
The City has also committed Local Option revenue to reinvest in the heart of Des Moines: our neighborhoods. Operating hours have been expanded at every one of the City’s six public libraries and the City implemented an ambitious Blitz on Blight  program to remove ten times as many dilapidated, abandoned houses throughout Des Moines each year.

Enhancing Public Safety
To better serve the growing demands of our city, Local Option revenue is being used to enhance public safety with funding for 13 firefighters and much needed mobile mental health crisis services for young people.

Providing property tax relief, fixing streets and storm sewers, strengthening our neighborhoods and enhancing public safety. Our commitments to this City are clearly defined thanks to the strong mandate delivered last spring by Des Moines voters.  As we continue to improve our City and the lives of those who call Des Moines home, we promise to use these Local Option funds effectively, responsibly and transparently. Our community is worth every penny.