Proposition No. 1 - Public Safety Levy Lid Lift

CAR - PD

PROPOSITION No. 1

At the Des Moines City Council's regular meeting on April 25, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 1795, which places a Property Tax Levy Lid Lift on the August 6, 2024 primary election ballot. The purpose of the proposed Levy Lid Lift is to generate revenue to pay for public safety costs. The use of these funds would be restricted to retaining existing police positions, adding additional police and public safety positions, public safety related capital purchases like police vehicles, and other costs related to public safety such as court and jail costs. 

If approved by a simple majority (50%+1) of Des Moines voters, the City’s property tax rate will be set at a maximum of $1.40 per $1,000 of assessed property value. This $0.50 increase from existing rates will allow the City to retain existing police services and expand them. Specifically:

  • Add (4) new Patrol Officer positions.
  • Retain (2) current Patrol Officer positions.
  • Make permanent and retain (2) limited-term Patrol Officer positions originally funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • Make permanent and retain a limited-term (1) Crisis Response Specialist originally funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).
  • Make permanent and retain a limited-term (1) Crime Analyst position.
  • Fund public safety capital needs (police vehicles).
  • Add (1) Community Service Officer.
  • Pay for increased use of SCORE jail services and Municipal Court. 

Retaining existing staffing levels at the Des Moines Police Department and also adding patrol officer positions and support personnel will enhance our capacity to respond promptly to emergencies and improve community policing efforts through increased presence and proactive policing strategies.

If the Levy Lid Lift is not approved, the City and our community face potential reductions in services due to staffing and resource limitations.

 

Approved - Proposition No. I

      P1-APPROVED

 

Rejected - Proposition No. I

      P1- REJECTED

 

Levy Lid Lift FAQs

  • What is a levy?

    Property tax systems can be either rate-based or levy-based. In a rate-based system, the taxing authority sets a tax rate. The rate is then multiplied by the assessed value of the property. In this manner, the tax is directly tied to the assessed value. Property tax collections increase or decrease with property values.

    Washington State is one of two states that use a levy-based property tax system as opposed to rate- based system. Under Washington’s levy-based system, state law allows a taxing district to collect a specified total dollar amount (the levy) per year. The county assessor calculates the tax rate by dividing the levy amount by the total value of all property within the jurisdiction. The tax rate is typically expressed in dollars per $1,000 of assessed value. So, with a levy-based system when the total value of property within a jurisdiction falls, the rates increase to raise the same amount of money, and when property values increase, then the rate would decrease to collect the same amount of money.

  • Why does the City need a Levy Lid Lift to maintain and increase Public Safety Services?

    The City’s largest revenue source is property tax, which is limited to a 1%annual increase. However, inflation has been at historical highs over the last several years, topping 10% in 2022, and has yet to return to the federal target rate of 2.5% annually. Increases in the costs of goods, wages, benefits, insurance and other materials the City requires has  impacted the City’s budget during this inflationary period.

    The City has used one-time funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) since 2022 to increase public safety services by funding two patrol officer positions,  a crisis response specialist and a crime analyst. The funding for these positions runs out at the end of 2024. Therefore, the City needs permanent funding in place to retain these positions. With an increase in permanent funding, the City intends to also add four additional patrol officers, one for each patrol team. With increased law enforcement activity, the costs of court and jail services would also increase. The levy lid lift accounts for these increases. 

  • How much of my property tax goes to the City?
    In 2024, a typical homeowner pays approximately 7.69% of their total property tax bill to the City of Des Moines. That money goes to the City to provide basic city services, such as police. The City currently commits approximately 55% of the annual general fund budget to public safety services.  

Levy Graph

 

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