Archive for  December 1st 2017

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DES MOINES, Iowa — The city of Des Moines is seeking input from the public on what they want their tax dollars spent on, even as the city tries to educate the public on how the budget process works. On Thursday Night, the city hosted the first of three public meetings at the Pioneer Columbus Community Center. The city says it will work with residents to plan for the coming fiscal year, July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019.  Each meeting will cover the current year’s budget review, discuss the budget process and help residents understand where their property tax dollars go.

“I think, you know, we pay the taxes, we should be able to voice our opinion and they do allow you to do that,” said local resident and taxpayer Jo Burns, and that’s why she believes the #SpeakUpDSM budget engagement meetings are important.

“I attended last year`s and I thought it was real informative, if you really listen,” said Burns. “And, they give you plenty of opportunity to respond and get your opinion and that, and then I always go home and I email them back my other opinions too.”

Local Resident and taxpayer Anna Breese is learning about how the budget process works, and workshops like this one help increase her understanding.

“It was nice to know that 38% of our property taxes go to help schools,” said Breese. “I wish that there was more to go around for different public services like mental health and police and community outreach, but I know it’s hard to stretch the budget. I personally don’t mind my tax dollars going for that stuff, but I think it helps to see it all laid out exactly what your dollars are going for.”

And, that’s exactly what the city is hoping to accomplish by having residents take part in interactive city budget activities and exercises like deciding how to divvy up and spend a limited amount of beans.

“This is based on a $100,000 home and it`s kind of done from that point,” said City Finance Director Bob Fagen. “They get 110 beans, of that, they have to make sure the county and the school and the others get their pieces before they start, because sometimes people think when they pay their tax bill, it`s all the city, so once they get rid of all of those pieces, whatever`s left, they distribute it through the cart around there.”

And there’s only so many beans, or tax dollars to go around.

“Some take mores beans than others, but in the end they`re gonna find out there`s not enough beans,” said Fagen.

Fore more information on the city’s budget process, visit budget.dmgov.org.

JOHNSTON, Iowa — The EPA has made their decision on the 2018 renewable fuel standard and biofuel supporters are disappointed.

Standard corn ethanol by law was to be set at 15 billion gallons, and it remains at 15 billion gallons. However, that’s where the good news ends.

In 2017 biodiesel was projected to see a 100 million-gallon increase, it only got a 33 million-gallon bump.  In the summer cellulosic ethanol was scheduled to be cut by 25%.  A furious effort from Governor Reynolds, and Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst helped to negate that cut to 7%.

For those in the industry, however, a cut is a cut; and not what they wanted.

“For biodiesel this is not good. The industry is larger than this, it can do more than this, it has proven that. This is an industry that is really ready to grow, and yet the EPA has basically put its foot down on the breaks” said Monte Shaw, Executive Director of the Iowa Renewable Fuels Association.

During his campaign in Iowa then-candidate Trump touted his support for ethanol, and criticized other candidates backed by the oil industry.

“Other candidates are supported by the oil industry, they’re totally supported by the oil industry, and they have them totally wrapped up” said Trump.

The man behind the EPA’s renewable fuel standard is EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt; a man President Trump nominated, and who received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the oil industry during his campaign for Oklahoma attorney general.

“We said when he was nominated that he wasn’t exactly on our top 10 list of people we’d like to see in there, but he needs to implement the president’s energy plan. This is not the Scott Pruitt energy plan” said Shaw.

Governor Reynolds thanked President Trump for his efforts to put pressure on the EPA to negate some of the damage the original EPA plan was to have, but says she and her colleagues in the legislature have more work to do.

“We’re going to continue to make sure that the president honors his commitment, and he has. Every time I talked to him he said he’s committed to the renewable fuel standards and I take him at his word” said Reynolds.

Though biofuel industry leaders acknowledge the president didn’t break his campaign promise to uphold the renewable fuel standard, they expected more.

“They didn’t come through on advanced biofuels. Did they undermine corn ethanol? No, but is that really something to do high-fives over? It’s the law, it was what the Obama Administration did last year, it’s what the president promised to do. They did follow through, so let’s give them credit for that, but it’s not like they moved a mountain” said Shaw.

Iowa’s biofuel leaders all agree the next thing they’d like to see is for the EPA to deregulate E-15 ethanol so it can be sold year-round. Director Shaw says that alone would increase the demand and production for ethanol.

President Trump promised Iowans he would do such if elected.