Mt. Union: yes or no?Question of unincorporation remains in the air as absentee ballot will decide city’s future
BY BRYCE KELLY
Mt. Pleasant News
It’s often said that in every election, every vote matters. And in the case of a vote on whether or not to unincorporate Mt. Union, that is certainly the case.
As of 10:30 a.m., Wednesday morning, it was a 31-31 tie on the Mt. Union public measure asking Mt. Union residents whether or not the town should unincorporate. However, with a tie-breaking absentee ballot still in the mail, it’s down to one vote to make the decision.
“There is still one absentee ballot out,” said Henry County Auditor, Shelly Barber. “We do have up until Nov. 14, which is the day before the canvass, to get that back and count it.”
As per election rules, absentee ballots have to be postmarked by Nov. 7, in order to be counted.
“At this point, we simply have to wait for that ballot to come in before we can move forward with the vote one way or another,” said Barber. “I am hoping that we will get that ballot in the next couple of days.”
As previously reported in the Mt. Pleasant News, if the vote passes, the city makes its request to unincorporate to the State of Iowa City Development board, and passage by the development board is nearly certain.
According to Matt Rasmussen, administrator of the Iowa City Development board, he said he cannot recall any unincorporation requests that have been denied in the past four years.
Once the request is granted, the city development board becomes the city’s “government” for the next six months. Two public notices must be published in a newspaper serving the city, giving creditors six months to file claims against the city.
The city development board also has the power to levy taxes against city residents for any city debt.
Following the six-month period, the county takes over and the city is treated like Swedesburg, Trenton and Lowell, the other three unincorporated communities in Henry County.
Prior to Tuesday’s vote, Mt. Union Mayor John Marek believed the measure would pass, but admitted some hometown pride would show up in the “no” column on Nov. 8.
“I was hoping for a wider margin, but we will just have to wait for the final results to see what will happen,” Marek said simply when asked about the current tie. “It’s up to the citizens (of Mt. Union) to make the choice… Once that last vote comes in, I am sure I will have more to talk about.”
In the event that a tie is maintained following the Nov. 14 deadline, Barber says she will be in contact with the state auditor’s office and follow their instruction on how to proceed. According to the Iowa Secretary of State website, generally, when a tie occurs between two candidates, lots are drawn (i.e. a name is pulled out of a hat) to determine the winner. If there is a tie vote for a public measure, lots are not drawn. The measure fails. Calls to the state office to confirm this rule were not returned by deadline.
“We will abide by the state in the case of a tie, but right now, we are simply waiting for that one ballot to come in so we can count it and settle the tie before we go any further,” she said.