DES MOINES — Des Moines officials have approved $62,000 for a phone survey as they explore whether to seek a 1-cent sales tax in Polk County.
The county is Iowa’s most populous and one of the few in the state without such a tax. Lobbying firm Carney & Appleby will survey residents to see how they feel about the tax. Results are expected in November.
“In most sophisticated campaigns ... you want to know what the voters think,” Des Moines Councilman Chris Coleman said.
The Iowa Department of Revenue said the sales tax could generate $79 million annually. City officials said Des Moines would see an extra $37 million annually.
The extra money could be used for infrastructure improvements, enhancing public safety and revitalizing neighborhoods, said Scott Sanders, city manager.
“It is important that we do have alternative revenue because we can’t be completely dependent on property tax when we don’t have a lot of property that pays it,” Hensley said.
About 38 percent of property in Des Moines is tax-exempt, such as government buildings, churches, hospitals and nonprofit groups.
Polk County residents could vote on the issue as early as March 2018.
Dallas County voters are considering a similar 1-cent sales tax increase at the general election on Nov. 7.
“I believe that if the ballot passes in Dallas County in November, that clearly could be viewed as momentum for the rest of the region. There’s just no question about it,” Des Moines Councilwoman Christine Hensley said.