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With traffic unit bolstered, Sioux City Police writing more citations

SIOUX CITY | Sioux City police issued 50 percent more traffic citations to motorists last year after adding two more officers to its traffic patrol unit. 

Police Department statistics show officers initiated 20,677 traffic stops and handed out 15,588 citations in 2017, up from 18,305 stops and 10,148 citations in 2016. The 2017 numbers also outdistanced the previous three years. 

As the emphasis on traffic enforcement increases locally, and as the Iowa Legislature considers banning or restricting cities' use of automated traffic enforcement cameras starting July 1, Sioux City officials are considering whether they should add more traffic patrol officers in the future. 

Ian Richardson / Provided 


"I think you can justify those two officers based upon changing behavior," Mayor Bob Scott said after viewing the statistics during the City Council's budget study session last week. "It would seem reasonable to me that if you wanted to add additional people to the police department, this is the area to add them." 

The increase in citations came after the city in April 2017 added two officers to its Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (S.T.E.P.) unit, bolstering the unit from one sergeant and two officers to one sergeant and four officers. 

S.T.E.P. officers wrote 5,900 of the 2017 citations, more than double the 2,868 citations they issued in 2016. Other police officers issued the other 9,688 citations, up from 7,280 in 2016.

Police Chief Rex Mueller said the increase in stops and citations are one measurement that the department is doing its job and enforcing traffic safety, which is consistently among the top concerns of the public. 

"Fairly applied traffic enforcement does affect traffic safety," Mueller said. "Those people who get stopped and cited are more likely to slow their speed next time." 

Justin Wan, Sioux City Journal 


Scott said if the Legislature takes the city's two Interstate 29 speed cameras and half-dozen red-light cameras away -- as is proposed in a bill that passed the Iowa Senate Tuesday and is up for debate in the Iowa House -- the addition of more officers could help the city monitor traffic on Interstate 29, which is in the midst of a multi-year reconstruction project. 

"I'm not so sure -- with the loss of the cameras, as it appears today -- you go out and seriously consider two more officers out there on that interstate until at least it's done, and then pretty much just have them there," Scott said. "And then you know what? (Drivers) get their due process and they also get their tickets doubled for that due process, and they can't say they were treated unfairly." 

The mayor referred to some of the specific complaints critics have raised about the automated traffic cameras.

The cost of tickets would go up if actual police officers handed them out because the city had lowered the speed camera fine in 2016 from $168 to $100. An officer-written citation for failure to obey a traffic control device also would be nearly double the red-light camera's $100 fine. 

Mueller said Tuesday he has heard the discussion at the council level and would be open to adding more police officers in general to the force. 



City Manager Bob Padmore said the city is looking into the proposal, and the earliest that would happen would be next year's budget, which would start July 1, 2019. He said a major criteria for his support would be whether profit generated by the tickets written by a new position could cover the cost of a new officer, which, counting salary and benefits, is about $120,000 annually. 

"We're looking at it, but we don't have anything at this point," Padmore said. "If we can show that we can make it work, you'd see it in next year's budget."

Where does Sioux City operate red-light cameras?

Sioux City currently operates six red-light cameras at intersections throughout the city. The cameras only ticket motorists who run red lights headed in one direction at each location. The city also operates two mobile speed cameras along Interstate 29.

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GALLAGHER: Red Raider preps for national tourney and more

ORANGE CITY, Iowa | For as long as Colton Kooima can remember, he's had a basketball in his hands, dribbling, shooting, pretending to drill a game-winning shot before a loud crowd.

It still works that way, sounds and images bouncing between his ears as he listens for the swish and the imaginary roar around 11 o'clock on a July night at the Bultman Center on the campus of Northwestern College in Orange City.

Kooima, player of the year in the Great Plains Athletic Conference, chose campus living over going home last summer, a plan that involved lots of late-night solitary shots to get his game -- and his team -- to be the best they could be.

The reward? The 22-year-old son of Preston and Sue Kooima goes home this week as the Red Raiders join Morningside College and Briar Cliff University in representing Northwest Iowa in the NAIA Division II Men's National Basketball Championship at the Sanford Pentagon, just up the road in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal 

Northwestern's Colton Kooima drives toward the basket as Morningside's Alex Borchers defends during basketball action at Morningside College in Sioux City earlier this season.

The Kooimas moved to Sioux Falls when Colton was in elementary school. So, he's ending a wonderful basketball career at "home."

Preston Kooima, assistant high school principal at Sioux Falls Washington, has fielded approximately 60 ticket requests from friends and family members for the Red Raiders' first-round game against Bellevue at 8 p.m. Wednesday. And while the Red Raiders often had crowds beyond 200 or so fans at previous national tournaments in Point Lookout, Missouri, Colton Kooima expects that number to swell way beyond that while competing in a national classic just an hour's drive from the Sioux County seat.

Sioux Falls is 40 minutes from Rock Valley, Iowa, where Colton was introduced to hoops, often following his dad to practice as the Rock Valley High School girls' team, directed by Preston Kooima, won back-to-back-to-back state championships.

"I remember my dad's intensity at practice," the younger Kooima says on a Friday afternoon, one of two people in the spacious Bultman Center gym. "I remember him watching VHS tapes of other teams, too. We still have a lot of the Rock Valley games on tape."

Colton Kooima's film study transitioned in college. He takes a seat with NWC Coach Kris Korver, often spending three sessions per week with the 2-time national championship head coach in poring over an opponent on tape. There are times Kooima examines the film himself, trying to zero in on a foe's tendencies.

His work on and off the court continues this drive for excellence, a pursuit rooted in the results of a pair of .500 campaigns during Kooima's first two years on campus. The Red Raiders finished 14-14 his freshman year, 15-15 his sophomore year.

"I remember thinking after my sophomore year that this isn't what I signed up for," says Kooima, a 2014 graduate of Sioux Falls Roosevelt. "I was upset."

A big change in Kooima's preseason routine involved golf. The two-time GPAC all-league golfer gave up the autumn half of the links season as a junior and senior, a sacrifice he made to help him focus on Red Raider basketball.

The 6-foot, 3-inch scorer translated that focus into production, averaging 24 points and earning First Team All-America honors for a 27-7 club last year, one that reached the second round of the national tournament. Kooima hit the game-winning shot, a tough fade-away jumper to upend Washington Adventist in the opening round.

This year? Kooima, a four-time all-conference honoree, is likely a First Team All-American following a 25-6 campaign, one in which his Red Raiders tied for second place during the regular season and finished runner-up in the GPAC Tournament, both of which were won by Morningside, which opens the national meet at 1:45 p.m. Thursday against Trinity International of Illinois.

Jim Lee, Sioux City Journal 

Northwestern's Colton Kooima goes up for a shot as Tyler Borchers of Morningside College defends during a basketball game earlier this season in Sioux City.

"It was disappointing to lose the conference tournament title game, but the GPAC is so tough," he says. "Give credit to Morningside; they made the plays down the stretch."

Kooima rode back to Orange City with Coach Korver that night, mulling strategy and results, sharing the discussion with Korver's sons, Christian, a Red Raider teammate, and Luke. The talk, he says, will help serve players and coach this week.

"Playing in the GPAC is special," Kooima reiterates. "It's such a grind. Playing those tough games every week prepares us for what we face in March."

Basketball, he continues, will help Kooima take aim at life's future challenges. This owner of a 3.3 grade-point average switched from a math major as a sophomore to a business administration major with an emphasis in finance. Before practice at the Pentagon one night last week, Kooima drove to Sioux Falls and distributed resumes at a job fair, recalling a brief meeting with representatives of the FDIC, who work out of Washington, D.C.

His toughest class in an 18-hour semester load this spring? It's advanced corporate finance, a course where students sometimes spend up to two weeks preparing then presenting case studies on business approaches taken by conglomerates such as AT&T and Coca-Cola. Kooima says he's hopeful the regimen has prepared him for what awaits in business. A dream job, he says, centers on one day becoming chief financial officer for a company.

The prolific shooter who always seeks to make one more (don't all shooters?) shares more than basketball on a day given to collegiate recap. His words, not the ball this time, bounce through an empty gymnasium.

"Northwestern is a faith-based institution and the college helped me expand my faith," he says. "And, Northwestern brought a whole new group of friends to me, relationships that will last a lifetime. I'll miss competing with guys who've become brothers to me. This has been a very special place, a place where I think I've matured and realized all that life has to offer."

Somewhere, an imaginary crowd roars its approval, as THAT is what this student-athlete signed up for when he left Sioux Falls to come here four years ago.


Elkhorn’s Brooke Carlson (45) had 25 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Antlers to a win over South Sioux City on Saturday.

Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal 

Bob Johnson, a Sioux City Police Department traffic unit officer, checks for speeders on South Martha Street. Sioux City Police officers wrote more than 5,000 more citations to drivers over the 2017 calendar year than in 2016, an increase of over 50 percent. 

How the different tax proposals would impact Iowans

DES MOINES | The changes to Iowa’s tax laws have the potential to be dramatic, impacting every Iowan who pays taxes for years to come.

Similarly, the changes could impact every function of state government because of what could be a reshaped state budget.

But what would it mean for Iowa taxpayers and businesses?

Republican state lawmakers, who hold agenda-making majorities in the Iowa House and Senate and occupy the governor’s office, are working on plans to overhaul the state’s tax code.

Two plans have emerged.

Both reduce income tax rates for Iowa workers. One also cuts taxes paid by Iowa businesses.

But within the plans are significant differences. The Senate plan, for example, goes much deeper with the tax cuts, thus providing more tax relief for Iowans and businesses, but also taking much more money out of the state budget.

Eventually the two plans will have to be merged into one.

The Senate introduced its plan and approved it this past week, in rapid fashion.

The House this past week began work on tax reform, choosing to work off a proposal introduced earlier in February by Gov. Kim Reynolds.

Here is how the plans compare.


Both plans will reduce the amount of taxes paid by Iowa workers.

Under the Senate plan, the number of income brackets would be reduced from nine to five, with the top bracket paying 6.3 percent, down from almost 9 percent.

The governor’s plan also reduces rates but does not change the income bracket structure.

So what does that mean for Iowa taxpayers?

Under the governor’s plan, by full implementation in 2023 Iowans making between $40,000 and $60,000 annually would pay roughly $200 less in taxes each year, a reduction of around 12 percent.

Under the Senate plan, Iowans in that range would pay roughly $600 less, a reduction of around 25 percent.

The estimates were compiled by the state budget department for both tax plans.

On the higher end of the income scale, Iowans who make between $100,000 and $125,000 would pay $365 less under the governor’s plan and $872 less under the Senate plan, according to the budget department projections.

In short, the Senate plan calls for bigger income tax cuts, meaning Iowa taxpayers would pay less under both plans, but less under the Senate plan than the governor’s.

But that comes at a cost to the state.


Perhaps the biggest difference between the two plans impacts taxes paid by Iowa businesses.

Reynolds’ plan does not include a reduction of the state’s corporate tax rate; the governor said the state budget cannot withstand the additional loss in revenue, and that further study of the state’s myriad tax incentive programs needs an in-depth study before business tax rates should be lowered.

Republican Senators do not think they need to wait. Their plan makes significant reductions to business taxes, lowering the top rate from 12 percent to 7 percent, and going from four tax brackets to two, taxed at 7 percent and 5.5 percent.

The changes would have a significant impact, reducing businesses’ tax burden by more than 50 percent, almost $265 million, according to the budget department estimates.

Businesses that make between a quarter-million and $1 million would receive the most significant savings from the Senate plan: an average reduction of more than $95,000, according to the projections.

Businesses that make more than $1 million would see a more modest reduction: just more than $5,000.

“This bill creates dramatic economic development and it says that we’re open for business,” said Randy Feenstra, a Republican state senator from Hull who oversaw the Senate plan. “We want to be a business-friendly state. We want to be bold. We want to grow.”


Both plans would mean tax relief for Iowa workers, and the Senate plan would also mean tax relief for Iowa businesses.

But that also means less money coming into the state budget.

And that reduction is vastly different in the two plans.

The governor’s plan anticipates state revenue will be reduced by $1 billion over the next six years.

The Senate plan would match that in one year.

Under the Senate plan, state revenues would be reduced by more than $4 billion over the next six years.

Republicans hope the revenue losses are not as significant as projected; they say economic growth as a result of the tax cuts could create some new revenue growth.

“Yes, this is bold,” Feenstra said. “Senators, we must be bold if we want to drive Iowa’s economy by creating higher wages, more jobs and more opportunities.”

The governor’s plan would trim state revenue by just more than $88 million in the state budget year that starts July 1 of this year, and gradually increase to a nearly $300 million reduction in the state budget year that begins July 1, 2022.

The Senate plan would cut state revenue by more than $200 million in the next state budget year, and increase annually to the point where it would reduce state revenue by more than $1 billion annually in the state budget years that start July 1 of 2021 and 2022.

Iowa’s entire state budget this year was just more than $7 billion.

Opponents of the plan, most prominently Democratic state lawmakers, fear such significant budget reductions would wreak havoc on the state’s finances and devastate the functions funded by state government.

“This is, in my opinion, the height of fiscal irresponsibility. Reducing the state of Iowa’s revenue by $1 billion will have a catastrophic consequence to public education, public safety, and managed health care,” said Matt McCoy, a Democratic state senator from Des Moines. “We are taking a drastic, dark and disastrous path.”


Before any of the aforementioned proposals become law, one plan must emerge from the Iowa Legislature and be signed by the governor.

Senate Republicans have already approved their plan.

House Republicans have chosen to work off the governor’s proposal, and have just begun that work.

Since it appears likely the plans will have differences — some of them significant — Republican leaders from the Senate, House and governor’s office eventually will have to work together to construct one compromise proposal. That final legislation could contain elements from both plans.

“We’re not going to preclude any topic at this point, I don’t think,” said Iowa House Speaker Linda Upmeyer, a Republican from Clear Lake. “The Senate sent a bill that they have an interest in doing and the governor has a bill. And we’re going to see what we can do to come up with something that’s just good for Iowans.”