Winneshiek County supervisors feel that the state legislature has balanced the state budget in part on the backs of local governments like county boards.
So a meeting between the Winneshiek County Board and State Representative John Beard and State Senator Mary Jo Wilhelm got a little spirited at times on Monday.
Beard told the supervisors that when state tax collections dropped, "there weren't a whole lot of options...we had to cut." But supervisor Bill Ibanez complained that state budget cuts meant big problems in maintaining Winneshiek County's roads: "If the money (from the state) isn't there, we still have to fix the roads," he noted.
And Winneshiek County Board Chairman Dean Darling noted that local governments use property taxes to pay for roads and other expenses--not more equitable taxes like the state income tax.
Supervisors also told the state lawmakers an increase in the gas tax would be a good way to raise money to fix roads. Supervisor Les Askelson called it "a win-win thing," noting that not only would roads get fixed, but the economy would improve because of job creation.
But Wilhelm pointed out that road tax collections might drop in the future--just like state income tax collections dropped this year. She said a more long range fix is needed.
Beard's and Wilhelm's visit to the Winneshiek County Board followed a recent similar visit to the Allamakee County Board.