Supervisors question Vedic City sales tax

Possible impact on law center, civic center is discussed.

Jefferson County supervisors and Fairfield’s city attorney raised concerns about Vedic City‘s local option sales tax at a public hearing this morning.

According to state law, the supervisors must pass a county ordinance ratifying Vedic City voters’ decision to add themselves to Jefferson County’s 1 percent local option tax. Vedic City’s portion of the tax revenue for Jefferson County will be allotted to “support peace creating experts and facilities for those experts.”

After Vedic City incorporated in July 2001, it was no longer part of the county’s local option sales tax. The recent vote brings the city under the umbrella of the tax.

The supervisors legally have no choice but to ratify the tax, but held the first of three public hearings today in order to raise several issues. Supervisor Steve Burgmeier said he hopes someone representing Vedic City will be present at the next hearing, which has not yet been scheduled, in order to address those questions.

The first issue raised this morning was that of funding for the Jefferson County Law Center. When the various cities in the county, as well as the unincorporated areas, passed the tax in 1998 and 1999, all of them dedicated part of their funds to retiring the law center debt.

“I’m a little surprised with the public purpose that Vedic City came up with not having anything to do with repayment of the law center,” Fairfield city attorney John Morrissey said. However, he added, “it’s kind of surprising and disappointing, but its not something we have any say in.”

A larger concern for the supervisors has to do with what would happen if Vedic City followed through on plans to bring 1,600 Vedic pandits to the city to practice Transcendental Meditation and then commissioned a census to get the city’s population officially locked in at a high number.

As it stands now, the Iowa Department of Revenue will calculate Vedic City’s portion of the county’s local option sales tax money based on a population of 85, because 85 people lived in that area when the last federal census was taken, before Vedic City was incorporated.

However, cities have the right to request one additional census every 10 years to adjust for changes in their populations.

If the city’s population soared dramatically, a special census would make it eligible for a much larger share of the money than the current estimate of about $5,000 per year.

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