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JoCo L.O.S.T. Debate
IOWA CITY, IA (CBS2/FOX28) - The prices at one of the region's most popular shopping centers, the Coral Ridge Mall, could go up this fall, if Johnson County residents approve a local option sales tax during mid-term elections.
But not every city in the county is necessarily on board with how this LOST renewal would go down.
"What do they stand to lose by not jumping on board? A significant amount of money," said Iowa City city council member and mayor pro tem Susan Mims.
That's because this LOST has the ability to generate nearly $20 million over the next 10 years -- the largest option being talked about now. The LOST could exist in iterations of fewer years, depending on the language cities decide to craft for the ballot.
But considering that 10-year option, Iowa City would stand to gain about $10 million in revenue, and Coralville about $2.5 million.
"The formula for distribution of the funds is really outdated," said Coralville city administrator Kelly Hayworth.
The formula draws on population and property tax information from the 1980s to figure out how much money each city gets. Obviously, much has changed throughout the county since then, and Coralville would like that to be accounted for if this proposed LOST is to be enacted.
The state legislature considered updating the LOST model from the 80s this past session, Hayworth said, but failed to pass a bill.
The city's biggest sticking point is that 50 percent of the county's sales tax revenues are generated in Coralville, thanks in no small part to the Coral Ridge Mall. But that doesn't correlate to LOST revenues.
"We would receive a significantly less amount of that funds back. And so that's the question," Hayworth said, speaking to what some Coralville city council members are calling an inequity.
Not so fast, Mims said.
"I think it's critical that people remember that people pay sales tax. Business don't, communities don't -- people pay sales tax and businesses collect the sales tax," Mims said, adding that those people come from all over, including outside of the county.
Communities outside of Coralville and Iowa City are fine with the way the money shakes out. North Liberty is just trying to decide how much of its potential $1.6 million would go to road construction, or other projects.
"Certainly I would like to have more, but what the law is, the law is, and if it breaks down a certain way, that's the way it happens," said North Liberty city council member Terry Donahue.
The cities in Johnson county also have to consider whether they will contribute 10 percent of their LOST revenue to help build the proposed courthouse expansion, which is also on the ballot this fall. The county has requested that the cities contribute those dollars to help fund the project.