Muscatine Developers Welcome Property Tax Reform - News and Weather For The Quad Cities -

Muscatine Developers Welcome Property Tax Reform

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Iowa lawmakers sent a large compromise bill to Governor Terry Branstad after months of debate.

Under the bill, commercial property owners will see their property taxes reduced by ten percent over two years.

Cities have complained, saying that loss in revenue will strangle city services.

However, a pair of Muscatine property owners welcome the relief.

From their rooftop balcony, Tom and Ann Meeker can look out on the downtown they call home.

"We saw a building that was empty and I looked at Ann, and I said surely somebody can do something with that, so we purchased an old union hall, sure enough we fixed it up and rented it out," says Muscatine developer Tom Meeker.

They started with 12 empty buildings, fixed them up to rent, and used the income to move on to the next project. 18 years later, they now own 70 buildings in Muscatine.

"Your downtown is the center of your city, it's what gives you a sense of place and a sense of belonging, it defines your community," says Ann Meeker.

They pride themselves on the work they've done, but the property tax implications are not cheap.

"Just the first floor is a commercial enterprise and you have two or three floors, above, so that larger square foot is residential, and we're paying commercial rates on all of that square footage," says Ann.

The Meeker's estimate they pay two to three hundred thousand dollars in property taxes.

They're happy with the bill on Governor Branstad's desk to reduce their bill by 10 percent. They plant to reinvest the savings in lower rents and new projects.

"It all helps, because it all gets spread out, after you charge the small business or the lower income people, we have a lot of those, we try to keep our rents down, to keep the downtown going," says Tom.

Helping rebuild Muscatine one building at a time.

Under the bill residential and agricultural land will have property tax increases capped at three percent, down from four percent.

Apartment owners will also see their property taxes shift from commercial to residential rates over a ten year period.