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Civic Skinny

Polk County revenues, expenses are down. Internet costs are up. Home inventory improves. And Iowans pass more gas in airplanes?

6/5/2024

RSM US LLP released its audit of Polk County for the year ending June 30, 2023. The financial report highlights the County’s revenues, which totaled $476,155,345, a 2% decrease from 2022. The decrease is primarily due to “$26.6 million in charges for services and $17.6 million decrease in operating grants and contributions primarily due to the receipt of federal emergency rental assistance funding and receipt of the second half of ARPA grant funding the prior year.” 

Expenses for County operations for 2023 totaled $370,623,029, also a 2% decrease from the previous year. The decrease in expenses is due primarily to “$66.1 million in administration expense related to emergency rental assistance expense in the prior year.” 

For those of you who don’t yet have a finger on a calculator, the difference between the two is $105,532,316. Who says there isn’t money in politics? Not the Polk County Supervisors, who will now be paid $149,290 each. …

Internet access isn’t cheap, at least not in Iowa. According to a recent report from highspeedinternet.com, Iowa ranks as the eighth most expensive state based on the average price paid for internet by Mbps. In other words, Iowans are paying significantly more money for slower internet speeds than those residing in other states. On average, Iowans pay $1.22 per Mbps, with an average monthly payment of $75.86, with the median Mbps in Iowa being 62.12. If there is any good news, it is that we don’t live in Alaska, where the price per Mbps is more than double of Iowa’s at $2.92. …

The Iowa Economic Development Authority board approved assistance for two central Iowa businesses and awarded a State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) Innovation Fund to three startups. 

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Bovi-Jet, based in Granger, makes devices for cattle producers to aid in animal health. Its product reduces the time and labor necessary to treat livestock by using sensors to detect cattle movement. The company was awarded a $50,000 Proof of Commercial Relevance (POCR) loan. 

West Des Moines company Incentit is an integrated incentive management platform company that supports organizations that implement their own programs along with third-party program managers. The company also received a $50,000 POCR loan for product refinement. 

Tractor Zoom, also based in West Des Moines, was awarded a $1 million Innovation Acceleration Expansion Fund loan for key personnel. The company offers online solutions for the farm equipment and heavy machinery market. The website, TractorZoom.com helps buyers find, value and finance farm equipment. …

Whatever happened to Iowa Nice? Iowans are apparently more guilty of being less-than-friendly travelers than those from other states, according to a survey by Solitaire Bliss. They ranked Iowa as the state with the naughtiest travelers. Here are a few findings from the survey:

• 57% of Iowa residents have put bags on a seat in the terminal to prevent someone else from sitting there. 

• 51% of Iowa residents have openly passed gas in the terminal or in the plane cabin.

• 45% of Iowa residents have avoided putting their phone on airplane mode.

Other naughty behaviors that were listed include bringing strong-smelling food on the plane, going barefoot, wearing strong cologne or perfume, drinking too much, pushing on the seat in front, ignoring the seatbelt sign, hanging legs in aisles, using both armrests while not in the middle, lying down in the terminal, asking to switch seats, leaving garbage in the seat pocket, and reclining seats without asking, In case you are curious, Arkansas travelers ranked the least naughty. …

Perry Democrats hosted a banned book auction on June 1 at the Proletariat restaurant with Iowa Senator Clair Celsi addressing the crowd. Event organizers say the idea for the event came last winter when Penguin Random House and four authors whose books had been banned sued the State of Iowa over its recent education law banning books that depict sex acts from schools. Earlier in May, five more publishing companies joined the pending lawsuit — Hachette Book Group, Harper Collins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and Sourcebooks. Profits from the book sales went to local Democratic candidates. …

Gov. Reynolds signed another crop of bills into law late in May. Some we found interesting were House File 2605, a bill for an act providing for the regulation of hemp and hemp products, providing penalties, and making penalties applicable. In other words, hemp-derived consumable products that contain THC will be further regulated. Reynolds said, “Ultimately, I am signing it into law to protect minors from dangerous and intoxicating products. At the same time, we’ve taken steps to ensure that children who are resistant to medications and suffer from seizures and other medical conditions continue to have access to consumable hemp alternatives for relief.” …

House file 2707 is a bill for an act relating to transactions involving used catalytic converters. Edmunds, an American online resource for automotive inventory and information, estimates more than 26,000 catalytic converters were stolen in the first six months of 2023 due to the valuable metals inside of them. Section 1c states “For transactions other than business transactions, the person selling the catalytic converter shall provide to the purchaser an original receipt or invoice for a replacement catalytic converter purchased fewer than thirty days before the person sells the replaced catalytic converter, a signed affidavit attesting to the seller’s valid ownership of the catalytic converter, or a junking certificate for a vehicle that was issued fewer than thirty days before the person sells the catalytic converter.” …

And, finally, home sales across the state are looking strong with more inventory available, according to the Iowa Association of Realtors monthly indicators for April. The quick facts show an 11.3% increase in closed sales of all properties, a 6% increase in median sales price of all properties and a 31.7% increase in homes for sale. ♦

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