LOSST measure up for renewal
Special election is Tuesday
Hamilton County voters will head to the polls on Tuesday to vote on whether to renew a measure that has helped fund scores of projects over the past two decades.
The renewal of the 1 percent Local Option Sales and Service Tax will be on the ballot. The LOSST has been in place in Hamilton County since 2000, according to County Auditor Kim Schaa.
Polls will be open Tuesday from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Schaa said, but with this special election, there will be just four polling locations. Those sites are:
• Blairsburg Precinct at the Blairsburg City Hall, 310 Lake St., for voters in the cities of Blairsrburg and Williams, and Blairsburg, Liberty and Williams Townships;
• Stanhope Precinct at the Stanhope Community Center, 600 Main St., south entrance, for voters in the cities of Stanhope and Stratford, Clear Lake, Hamilton, Marion and Webster Township, and also Dodge Township in Boone County (For the Stratford School District PPEL measure also on the ballot);
• Jewell Precinct at the Jewell UCC Church, 537 Main St., north entrance, for voters in the cities of Ellsworth, Jewell and Randall, Ellsworth, Lincoln, Lyon, Rose Grove and Scott Townships;
• Webster City Precinct, St. Paul Lutheran Church, 1005 Beach St., west entrance, for voters in the cities of Kamrar and Webster City First, Second and Third Precinct, Webster City Third.Cass; Independence, Cass, Freedom and Fremont Townships.
Curbside voting is available for any voter who is physically unable to enter a polling place. Contact the Hamilton County Auditor’s Office at 832-9510 for more details on this.
Schaa said early voting is available at the courthouse through Monday.
Dan Campidilli, chairman of the board of supervisors, said the LOSST funds provided to the county not only help with special projects but also offer property tax relief.
“Right off the top, it’s 25 percent tax relief for the rural fund,” he said.
Many of the projects that have been funded by LOSST dollars are things that the county and the cities don’t have room for in their regular budgets.
“I like to call these the feel good projects,” Campidilli said. “For example, All Cultures Equal came to us and needed funds to get reorganized. They came to the county and the city of Webster City and asked if we would be able to help them.”
Campidilli said the supervisors felt the project provided vital services to the community and needed to be operating.
“We used Local Option Sales and Service Tax money to fund them $15,000,” he said.
Other projects have included funding for the Financial Literacy Council of Greater Hamilton County for its kindergarten college savings accounts, as well as financial assistance for Wilson Brewer Park’s planned renovations of the county’s first courthouse.
Other communities throughout the county have used the LOSST funding for a variety of purposes.
Kamrar has received more than $135,000 in LOSST monies and numerous projects have been completed, including a new metal roof, siding and doors on town’s maintenance building. Funds were also used to add a new waterline and cement around the restrooms in the city park. Various road work projects were also accomplished, officials said. Future plans in Kamrar call for LOSST dollars to be used to help pay for asphalt overlay on city streets and various infrastructure projects.
In Jewell, many infrastructure projects have been funded with LOSST dollars. Recently, a new concrete street was constructed. Funds in the future will be used for infrastructure improvements, streets, sidewalks and recreational facility improvements.
Officials in Ellsworth hope to use LOSST proceeds to implement improvements in the Main Street business area.
Blairsburg received $20,358 in 2020. Funds have been used for street repairs and future funding would be used for infrastructure improvements and other purposes for the community.
Williams has received about $260,000 in LOSST funds since 2012. Most of those dollars have been spent on slip lining the sanitary sewer in the community. A new tractor was purchased in 2018 and a new mower in 2014, both with LOSST funds. Officials said future funds will be used to rehabilitate the sewer lines, manholes and other infrastructure projects.
In Webster City, LOSST funds have been used for the current county jail and most recently for street improvements. The city plans to use the majority of future LOSST funds to build the new wastewater treatment plant which will help to keep future sewer rate increase as low as possible.
Stratford received $71,500 in LOSST funds in 2019. The funds have been used to replace storm boxes, street pavement overly and municipal pool renovations. The city of Stratford will continue to allocate the funds for repairs and replacement of infrastructure at 75 percent and repair or replace the municipal pool infrastructure at 25 percent of the funds.
In Stanhope, 100 percent of the LOSST proceeds have been used to retire debt on the library and community center. Future proceeds will be used to further retire that debt, as well as for infrastructure needs including, but not limited to roads and parks.
Officials in Randall said the LOSST funds have been and will continue to be used to improve the community.
In fiscal year 2019-20, Hamilton County received over $642,000 in LOSST proceeds. A majority of the funds have been used for courthouse maintenance, security and technology improvements, upgrades on court system areas, the Briggs Woods Conference Center and conservation projects and equipment. Other projects have included 9-1-1 system upgrades and Public Health campus relocation and renovation, in addition to contributions to the county’s libraries, the Hamilton County Fairgrounds and the kindergarten college savings plan.
“The LOSST funds are kind of a safety net, just in case something comes up,” Campidilli said.
Campidilli said the local option tax money for the county libraries is vital, providing much needed funding to help support the libraries and their programs.
“It’s really vital for the communities in the county and lets them fund projects they might not otherwise have a chance to do,” he said.