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Conservation-A WISE Solution By: Kevin Williams, Grundy County Conservation Director

April 7, 2017
Northern-Sun Print
My last column, I wrote about taxes. Nobody likes paying taxes, myself included. However, sportsmen asked for a special tax for a special purpose. Well, I intended a follow-up column on a special tax but got side-tracked last week with my old friend the kidney stone. Two days later I had “passed” that hurdle but missed my deadline for the column. However, I must say that I was reminded that there are other things besides taxes that aren’t pleasant! So, I’m back and ready to fill you in on that special tax I was talking about. Over a half dozen years ago Iowans went to the polls and approved funding Iowa’s Conservation Trust Fund with the next sales tax increase. The law happened but the tax didn’t. The premise was simple – with the next tax increase, conservation would receive 3/8 of one percent ear-marked for conservation purposes. That included soil conservation, water conservation, and wildlife conservation to name just three. Iowa’s Land & Water Legacy (IWILL) is something that I have written about a couple of times. This 3/8 of one percent would create a secure funding source for conservation. County Conservation Boards are included in the pie chart developed for these funds. I filled out the assessment for Grundy County in unmet needs. Our department, like every other conservation department in Iowa, has projects on the books that need funds. Some are new developments and some are maintenance that will need addressed soon. Trail gaps, surfacing, and rejuvenating blacktop roads added up to 2.5 million dollars in assistance that we could use right here. Collectively, Iowa’s 99 County Conservation Boards have unmet needs of over 60 million dollars. If the Trust was funded with that 3/8 of one percent, the revenue would be $180 million. As I mentioned earlier, Iowa’s soil, water, wildlife, and recreation would benefit. The tax increase has been the wall to get hurdled. And a bill in the legislature could do that this year. It is being called The WISE Solution – Water, Infrastructure, Soil for our Economy (WISE). The Kaufman Bill is being proposed as a tax neutral solution. One eighth percent increase in sales tax over three years with an equal reduction in income taxes to offset it. Here is where I will stop with an explanation because I can’t go farther than I have studied things. But I do know this. 63 percent of Iowan’s approved of funding the Conservation Trust with the next tax increase. A recent poll showed 73 percent of Iowan’s support a tax neutral funding solution. A tax on firearms and ammunition funding important conservation programs was a good idea. I think an ear-marked funding source for Iowa’s soil, water, wildlife, and recreation conservation needs is a WISE Solution. I encourage you to look into the bill yourself.


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