Frequently Asked Questions

When is the special election?
Election Day is Tuesday, March 6. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Who can participate in the election?
Any eligible voter in Johnston may participate in this election. To vote by absentee ballot, complete the State of Iowa’s absentee ballot request form and mail it to the Polk County Election Office, located at 120 2nd Avenue, Suite A, Des Moines, IA 50309.

Any eligible voter in the Polk County portion of Johnston may vote on March 6.

What language will appear on the special election ballot?
Not less than fifty percent (50%) to be allocated for property tax relief, applied first to reduce the debt service levy before being applied to other levies., and,

Not more than fifty percent (50%) for capital improvement and quality of life projects which may include, but are not limited to; street, sidewalk and public utility improvements, public safety capital expenditures, park and trail improvements, and for other public purposes the city deems appropriate.

Are there any other questions on this special election March ballot?
No other questions will appear on the ballot.

Does the vote have to pass in every city or county-wide?
The ballot language varies across each city in Polk County, but residents in Altoona, Bondurant, Clive, Des Moines, Johnston, Pleasant Hill, Urbandale, West Des Moines and Windsor Heights will all vote on March 6. If more than 50% of the population votes yes, it passes for all the cities listed above.

When is the election and where do I vote?
The voting location for Polk County residents in Johnston is your normal polling place. If you are unsure of where to vote, click here.

Will this vote impact my property taxes?
This vote will not increase your property taxes in Johnston, but would provide property tax relief as stated in the ballot language above.

Who pays the additional sales tax?
The Local Option Sales Tax is based on point of delivery retail sales in Polk County. This means a resident of Polk County, or visitors from outside the area would pay this tax at retail establishments in Polk County.

How much revenue will be generated from this sales tax?
Based on information provided by the State of Iowa, the estimated amount of annual LOSST funding (FY16 actual) for Johnston is $2,929,756 (3.63% of the total collections in Polk County).

How will the revenue be divided among the communities in Polk County?
Based on the State Code-established formula, a calculation is made using the most recent certified census population (75%) and the amount of property taxes levied in the early 1980’s (25%) within the County. If all cities within Polk County approve the local option sales tax, the below is the distribution of local option sales tax revenue for each governmental entity, based off an estimated total of $80.7 million annually.

  • Alleman: $70,445
  • Altoona: $2.1 million
  • Ankeny: $7.9 million
  • Bondurant: $781,710
  • Carlisle: $11,832
  • Clive: $1.7 million
  • Des Moines: $37.2 million
  • Elkhart: $96,654
  • Granger: $28,834
  • Grimes: $1.2 million
  • Johnston: $2.9 million
  • Mitchellville: $340,290
  • Pleasant Hill: $1.4 million
  • Polk City: $509,262
  • Runnells: $74,210
  • Sheldahl: $21,079
  • Unincorporated areas: $11.5 million
  • Urbandale: $5.2 million
  • West Des Moines: $7 million
  • Windsor Heights: $851,698
What does Johnston plan to do with the Local Option Sales Tax revenues it receives? 
Revenue from the Local Option Sales Tax will help Johnston reduce the City’s portion of the property tax levy, while providing additional funding for capital improvement projects, such as:
  • NW 62nd Avenue improvements (east of Merle Hay Road, including trails/sidewalks)
  • Sidewalk connections and repairs
  • Creating a recreation trail along Pioneer Parkway
  • Constructing a playground at Johnston Commons
  • Improving trail connectivity and extended trails along NW 86th Street
  • Water trail development
  • Greenwood Hills Park improvements, including shelter
  • Adventure Ridge Park restroom
  • Dewey Park restroom replacement and playground
  • Crosshaven park improvements
  • Ray Schleihs Park playground
How will utility payments be taxed in Johnston?
If the billing address is located in the local option taxing jurisdiction, the tax will apply to the utility bills beginning July 2018.

Do other communities in Iowa have a Local Option Sales Tax?
Yes, according to the Iowa Department of Revenue, 97 of 99 counties in Iowa have a Local Option Sales Tax (all except Johnson and Polk counties).

Will the Local Option Sales Tax increase only be paid by Polk County residents? 
Anyone purchasing goods or services in Polk County will pay an additional one percent sales tax at retail establishments in Polk County, not just Johnston or Polk County residents. However, revenue from the Local Option Sales tax will be used to hold the line on property taxes and support improvements across our community.

If the vote passes, how soon would Johnston receive the money?
By August 15 of each fiscal year, a written notice of the monthly estimated local option payments for the fiscal year will be sent to localities.

95% of estimated tax receipts are paid monthly. For example, localities’ estimated monthly tax distributions will be issued for July by August 31.

A final payment of any remaining tax due to a locality for the fiscal year will be made before November 10 of the next fiscal year. If an overpayment to a locality exists for the fiscal year, a reduction of monthly distributions to reflect the overpayment will begin with the November payment.