Iowa is the only state in the country that hasn't doubled its population in the last century.
Some of Sioux City's lawmakers believe that's because of Iowa's tax structure, and those lawmakers are trying to make some changes.
Iowa has both a commercial and individual income tax. South Dakota does not.
That means when new businesses come to the Siouxland area, they can set up shop right inside South Dakota's border and still enjoy the amenities Sioux City has to offer.
When those new business's property tax dollars leave the state, Sioux City's public school systems and other public services lose those dollars.
Sioux City's lawmakers are working to make Iowa an attractive place for businesses regardless of the state's tax laws. They're putting together incentive packages and job programs for companies coming to town, and it's been successful. That's how Sioux City wound up keeping Sabre Industries inside the Iowa border.
"It would have been easy for them to jump the border into South Dakota and relocate. South Dakota's not that far away, and it wouldn't have had a dramatic impact on their current employees. But we were able to put together an incentive package which kept them in Iowa and kept them in Sioux City," Bob Padmore, Interim City Manager said.
One recent legal effort? A commercial property tax reform. State Representative Chris Hall says lowering the property taxes for businesses a year ago has kept Sioux City in the game.
"I think that it will help Sioux City maintain some competitive edge, and I think that it was the right package to pass. It was very bipartisan and it was supported by both chambers of the legislature," Representative Chris Hall said.
Representative Hall says they've made good progress, but Iowa's border communities still have a long way to go to keep attracting businesses to the area, whose tax dollars help fund the public schools, the city's infrastructure, and other public services.
"If we're going to be competitive with South Dakota or Nebraska or our neighboring areas, we need to do whatever we can to reduce that tax burden," Representative Ron Jorgensen said.
The property tax reform is evidence that Sioux City's voice is heard in the capitol. Sioux City's lawmakers say they're still working to represent the challenges we face as a border community.
"Because of our unique climate and the fact that we sit in the tri-state area, we're always looking to educate other legislators about what those challenges look and feel like, and how they affect us in a way they might not be familiar with," Hall said.
Representative Hall and Representative Jorgensen say successfully lowering the commercial property tax last year makes them optimistic about the upcoming legislative session in Des Moines, and that they're sure everyone at the capitol understands that a stronger Iowa includes a stronger Sioux City.
Iowa's upcoming legislative session will begin January 13th.
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