What is the local option?

Recently metro residents asked their various city councils in Polk County to approve requesting a public vote on a 1% local option sales and service tax (LOSST). 

Residents of Des Moines will have an opportunity to vote on Tuesday, March 6.

If approved, the City of Des Moines would receive $37 million annually and 50% of that will be used to support property tax relief and a variety of improvement projects discussed by the City for several years. 

Those projects include:

  • Enhance public safety, including facilities, equipment, and personnel
  • Repair and replace streets throughout Des Moines
  • Increase the City's ability to remove and redevelop blighted properties though a Blitz on Blight program


Voting Info


Answers To Your Questions
  1. How will this vote impact my property taxes?

    This vote is intended to provide property tax relief as stated in the ballot language below (Q2) and a resolution the Des Moines City Council approved in December.

  2. What's on the ballot?

    This is the language as it will appear on the ballot: "To authorize imposition of a local sales and services tax in the City of Des Moines, at the rate of one percent (1%) to be effective July 1, 2018. Revenues from the sales and services tax shall be allocated as follows: In the City of Des Moines: 50% for property tax relief. The specific purposes for which the revenues shall otherwise be expended are: Fifty percent (50%) of such revenues for lawful purposes of the City including but not limited to, repairing streets, public safety, and improving neighborhoods throughout the City of Des Moines. All expenditures will be subject to regular audit, public comment, and review."

  3. Who will pay this new sales tax?

    The Local Option Sales Tax is paid based on point of delivery retail sales not including items such as groceries, gas and prescription drugs. Anyone making a purchase at a retail business in Polk County would pay the new sales tax. For a full list of taxable services and products visit the Iowa Department of Revenue.

  4. Does this have to pass in every city or just countywide?

    The contiguous cities (cities that share borders) of Polk County vote together as a block and must approve it with 50 percent of the votes plus one. This means, for example, that those cities could approve the Local Option Service and Sales Tax, but the rest of Polk County might not approve it and the revenue would be collected and distributed only to those contiguous cities.

  5. Do any other communities in Iowa have a Local Option Sales Tax?

    Yes, according to the Iowa Department of Revenue 1,277 out of 1,373 (93 percent) communities in Iowa have a Local Option Sales Tax.  Dallas County passed th Local Option in November and will begin collecting the additional 1% July 1, 2018. This means Polk County residents are already paying Local Option Sales Tax in many communities they may visit across the state - such as Jordan Creek Town Center.

  6. If approved, when would the Local Option Sales Tax be implemented?

    If approved, the Local Option Sales Tax would become effective July 1, 2018.

  7. What Businesses Would Be Impacted?

    Any Polk County business that currently collects sales or service tax for the state of Iowa would collect an extra 1% tax that goes directly to local government. The sales tax would not apply to groceries, prescriptions, gasoline, and utilities.  

  8. How Would the Local Option Help the City's Budget?

    These funds would help diversify the city’s revenue sources, sharing the load of funding with visitors and all who shop in Des Moines. Various sources have reported that as much as 30% of the new revenue would come from individuals living outside of the city.    

  9. How Much Revenue Would Be Generated?

    Based on 2016 sales tax figures, the City of Des Moines is estimated to receive approximately $37,000,000 annually.    

  10. What Will Des Moines Do with The Revenue?

    Revenue from the Local Option Sales Tax will help Des Moines lower its tax rate and provide additional funding for projects, including: 

    • Street Improvements: 20% of the revenue would be used to accelerate the five-year street maintenance improvement plan targeting streets like Hickman Rd., Fleur Dr., Pennsylvania Avenue and East Court Ave. 
    • Neighborhood Improvements:  20% of the revenue would be used for neighborhood projects like the Blitz on Blight; removing blighted properties across the city and improvements to streets, sidewalks and parks.  
    • Public Safety:  10% of the revenue would be used for fire station improvements, public safety communications equipment and firefighter positions currently funded with an expiring grant.
    • Property Tax Relief: 50% pf the revenue would be dedicated to immediately reduce the levy rate and lessen the need for a future tax increase.