Apr 28, 2021 - News
Des Moines residents could see a transit-driven property tax bump
Illustration of a public bus made of a $100 bill and quarters
Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

DART is set to launch its first budget year using a new formula that bases property taxes for regional transit services on a population and service calculation, CEO Elizabeth Presutti tells Axios.

Why it matters: Des Moines' estimated transit tax rate will grow from around 95 cents per $1,000 valuation to an estimated $1.50 in the next eight years as the new formula is phased in.

  • That’s roughly $62 more a year for a person with a $200,000 home after tax breaks are factored.
  • West Des Moines’ estimated tax rate will grow by about 12 cents.
  • All other areas will retain or reduce their current tax rate contributions.

The backdrop: Lawmakers gave DART the ability to collect property tax in 2006 from the communities it serves.

  • Its budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1 is almost $38 million, mostly paid through property tax and fare revenue.

The state of play: DART Commission members have wrestled for years with how to fairly distribute costs for the service.

  • The new formula factors in population and uses service tiers to help determine a city’s contribution.

Yes, but: DART’s Commission has determined that property taxes are not a viable long-term funding mechanism.

  • Special taxes on sales, vehicles, income, payroll, fuel, hotel/motels and car rentals are all under consideration.

What's next: Budget diversification could take years and require approval from lawmakers and voters.

  • DART is monitoring statewide legislation that would allow hotel/motel taxes to help pay for regional transit services.
  • If approved, local taxpayers could be asked to vote on a special hotel/motel transit tax within the next year to lower property tax rates.

Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.