Polk County Levy Rates FY 20/21

Property tax statements were sent to Polk County residents a couple weeks ago for tax payments due in FY 2020/2021. In 12 of the 135 tax districts the total levy amount increased. The remaining districts saw decreases. Taxes due increased for many people, though, as a result of increases in property valuation from 2018 assessments (used for the FY 2019/2020 taxes) to 2019 assessments (used in the FY 2020/2021 taxes).

The Polk County levy rate, for both city tax districts and rural districts was unchanged. There were decreases in the levy rates for the county hospital, ag extension, assessor, state, and community college. Levies for regional transit, schools, and cities, as well as any special district levies were variable across the 135 districts. This is similar to the pattern from FY 2018/2019 to FY 2019/2020.

In communities where some districts saw increases and others did not, such as in Delaware and Washington Townships, the school levy for the district increased the total levy rate. In Altoona, where both districts saw an increase, the reason was a rise in the city levy rate. Then there is Polk City, where the city levy increased and school levies decreased, but in 1 of the 3 districts, the city levy rose more than the school levy decreased. You can see how your levy rates changed on the Polk County Auditor’s website.

While the county’s levy did not increase or decrease, the allotment within the levy did change. With re-issuance of bonds last fiscal year, debt service decreased, as did the levy for mental health services. There was an increase in the general supplemental portion and no change in the general base.

Similarly, for the Des Moines schools, the portion of the levy rate for the Voted Physical Plant did not change. You may remember the November 5, 2019, election and the claim of supporters for a tax levy cap limit increase on physical plant levy rates. One of the arguments supporters used was that the levy rate would not increase, and the physical plant levy rate did not increase. However, the Management part of the levy increased by 80%. You may read the Polk County Libertarians blog post about the 2019 ballot measure here (http://polklibertarians.org/november-5-ballot-measure-tax-levy-increase-for-des-moines-schools/).

Unrelated to the property tax statements, the Polk County Board of Supervisors has set a hearing for its September 29, 2020, hearing on proposed amendments to the current fiscal year’s budget. As with prior years, this budget amendment process “reflects] the actions of the County Offices and Departments since the budget was certified on May 5, 2020, and to comply with expenditure limits.” The anticipated expenses and transfers out = $376,629,269 and anticipated revenue and transfers in = 343,696,352. The Polk County Libertarians summarize the weekly agenda of the county’s Board of Supervisors’ meetings to help Polk County residents understand from where money comes and where it goes.

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