State Appeal Board upholds Sioux County's 2014-2015 budget after - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

State Appeal Board upholds Sioux County's 2014-2015 budget after citizen challenge

DES MOINES, Iowa (KTIV) - The state of Iowa has sided with Sioux County over a tax protest brought on by local residents.

The petitioners, in this case, 100 residents in Sioux County, had the burden to prove county officials unjustly increased their budget.  The three-member state board of appeal says they didn't prove their case.  So, they upheld Sioux County's expenditures for the next budget year. "Our staff thoroughly went over those statistics and facts that were presented, and we thought they seemed reasonable and prudent," said Michael Fitzgerald, Iowa State Treasurer.

In fact, the chairwoman of the board, said it may all be just a miscommunication. Of the eight complaints filed by the petitioners, the one that drew the most concern was a discrepancy in the county budget. The original estimate in fiscal year 2013 showed a $700,000 shortfall.  But, the published budget had an extra $10-million. The county said that some planned projects were slowed down and the money was never spent, leaving them with a surplus. "That was something that I did bring up during the meeting, and I do think that's very important that the elected leaders explain any discrepancies and communicate when there are discrepancies," said Mary Mosiman, Board of Appeal Chairwoman.

While the appeal board sided with Sioux County on all eight of the petitioners' complaints, their audit did find a discrepancy that has to be fixed.  The beginning fund balance figure used in 2013 was actually the end balance figure.  But, board members say it doesn't change the county's budget. "It just made it appear that there was more expenditures than there were," said David Roederer, Department of Management Director.

As for the other complaints leveled against the county, the board says it's not in their jurisdiction to decide whether or not county leaders are bullying residents or being paid an excessive salary. They say voters can have their voices heard at the ballot box.
"That's for the people of Sioux County to decide, not the board," said Roederer.

All three board members said Sioux County was acting in the best interest of the tax payers.

The Sioux County Auditor said she was delighted with the decision.

We reached out to representatives of "The New Broom Society of Siouxland", which filed the complaints that got the case to the State Appeal Board. They haven't returned our calls for comment.
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