The Fairfield Area Chamber
of Commerce 2015 Legislative Agenda
was ratified by the Chamber Board of Directors.
The Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce supports:
Continued Commercial/Industrial Property Tax Relief
- The current tax system, which allows for minimal limitations on valuation increases for industrial and commercial properties and provides substantial rollbacks on residential and agricultural valuations, has allowed for the shifting of the property tax burden to commercial and industrial property owners, placing Iowa at a significant competitive disadvantage. Iowa ranked 13th for highest commercial property tax burden in 2013 (Source: Tax Foundation 2013 Survey), hindering business attraction and retention efforts. While recent commercial tax rollbacks have made some progress towards tax equality, the uncertainty of their perpetuation and continued disparities necessitate further action. In a recent survey of the Chamber membership, 68% listed this issue as “Critical/Important”.
- FEDA & the Fairfield Chamber strongly support economic growth efforts to improve local, state and federal business and community development programs and foster an environment for new and existing businesses to succeed and invest in Iowa communities. Areas of opportunity include:
- Continue to support TIF as a flexible tool to support economic development initiatives.
- Encourage legislative action that secures sustainable funding for Iowa’s deteriorating road and bridge infrastructure.
- Strengthening successful worker training and retraining programs like 260E and 260F Industrial New Jobs Training Program as part of an effort to address Iowa’s widening workforce availability and skills gap with long-term, multi-faceted policies which include education, training, retention and recruitment.
- Supporting efforts to further develop the next generation of Iowa’s Enterprise Zone program into an expanded and less administratively burdensome one which provides access to the former Enterprise Zone benefits to Iowa counties, particularly those identified by Census data as among Iowa’s most economically distressed.
- Stress to the governor the importance of regular, reliable and on-time funding to Iowa’s schools. The Iowa School Finance Formula requires reform to improve the equity in and adequacy of funding. Currently, Iowa is ranked 22nd in the nation in per capita personal income, while at the same time Iowa ranks 35th in the nation in educational funding per student, which is $1,612 below the national average (NEA Rankings and Estimates 2012-2013). Iowa’s ranking should at least be at the national average (NEA Rankings and Estimates 2012-2013). In real dollars, adjusted for inflation, the percent change in Iowa’s spending per student has decreased 11.7% (-$641), from FY 2008 to FY 2014. (Source: Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, May 20, 2014).
- Encourage statewide support of educational programs such as ELEVATE Iowa and Project Lead the Way to ensure Iowa’s schools developing young talent in advanced manufacturing fields of study.
- State-level education policy reforms should include increased emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). As well as skills development, early childhood education expansion, performance-based assessment programs for educators and students, and statewide accountability standards.
- Strengthening the Workforce Housing Tax Credit is essential to securing affordable quality housing stock for rural towns experiencing a decline in quality housing options. In a 2014 FEDA survey of major Jefferson County employers, 80% of employers cited a shortage of affordable quality housing as a significant problem in attracting and retaining employees.
The Fairfield Area Chamber of Commerce supports:
- Updating the 2003 Fairfield Comprehensive Plan is vital for orientating infrastructure improvements towards growth areas and establishing a vision for Fairfield’s future.
- Encourage Jefferson County and Fairfield to collaboratively establish a Fairfield extra-territorial jurisdiction to help establish orderly, efficient and comprehensive land use policies that promote economic growth.
Property Tax Relief
- Continue conducting local tax body ‘tax summits’ in order to discuss current levy rates and discourage large unexpected tax increases.
- Focus on attracting development within city limits to increase the local tax base and alleviate the increasing tax burden of existing property owners.
- Utilize TIF to facilitate infrastructure development in targeted growth areas in order to increase Fairfield’s quality housing stock, private investment and ensure Fairfield’s financial stability and economic prosperity.
- Build on existing downtown low interest lending programs and façade improvements to encourage redevelopment of empty downtown lots, fill vacant storefronts and create new opportunities for entrepreneurs.
- Support local efforts to assist and enable entrepreneurial development, including business incubator support and development and collaboration with the Fairfield Economic Development Association’s entrepreneurial development programs as well as those of the City of Fairfield, the Fairfield Entrepreneurs Association and other groups.
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