In a short drive around the Johnston community it is easy to see how much growth there has been in the past two decades – road improvements, updated infrastructure, corporate expansions, new schools. It is literally impossible for anyone traveling on the major transportation arteries in the city to NOT see this change. Our population and economy have grown, and so has the demand for city services. The inevitable questions are: What and how many services do you need and want? How do you pay for them?
In previous posts, we’ve expressed the idea that, from an economic development perspective, having a government tax structure that is comparable, consistent and competitive is a good thing. If the tax policy is within the norm for a region, there is at least some confidence that taxes aren’t a major factor inhibiting growth. At this point it’s unclear which is more important – having a lower sales tax rate than other communities in the region in order to boost retail activity in Johnston, or having the same sales tax rate as everyone else and using the proceeds to lower the property tax rate. Time and the outcome of the upcoming sales tax ballot issue will tell.
There is another factor that could be considered by voters in the upcoming election. Each year the City of Johnston develops a Capital Improvement Plan, along with various plans for equipment purchases and decision packages for staffing and programs. Of course, not every proposal gets funded, and like any community, there are more needs and wants than the budget will allow. But the things the city staff and Council want to do is a known; they’ve published it here. Listed there are a number public safety, parks and trails, and street/sidewalk projects that could be viewed as necessary or beneficial to the community.
One thing that is certain to happen is the reconstruction of the NW 62nd Avenue and Merle Hay Road intersection. This must be done as a part of the Johnston Town Center project. In fact, the published information states that the projects listed on the website “will be funded.” The ballot issue simply offers a choice between property and sales tax as the funding source. Johnston residents will soon make that decision.
The Johnston Economic Development Corporation does not endorse or oppose ballot issues. We do encourage our members and partners to be informed and to vote in their respective communities.