Cerro Gordo County voters went to the polls in small numbers Tuesday, April 10, to elect a new county auditor and approve a hotel/motel tax for the unincorporated areas of the county.
Riley Dirksen was the only candidate listed on the ballot for the open county auditor’s position and received a total of 712 votes. Dirksen received 59 votes cast at Clear Lake City Hall and 22 at Clear Lake Church of Christ. Forty-Six voters in Ventura approved of Dirksen. There were 25 write-ins county-wide for the candidate.
Dirksen worked for the county from 2011 to 2017 as a PC support specialist, business analyst and software developer. He resigned his position to start his own software development and consulting company, but continued to work with the county as an independent contractor on the national award-winning election poll book program called Precinct Atlas.
The position was vacated by longtime county auditor Ken Kline, who resigned to accept the position of Deputy Commissioner of Elections with the Iowa Secretary of State’s office.
The vote canvas was scheduled to take place Tuesday, April 17, with Dirksen taking office following the canvas.
A county-wide 7 percent hotel/motel tax was passed on an 86-69 vote, providing a 55.48 margin of approval.
Officials from the Clear Lake Area Chamber of Commerce and Visit Mason City supported the 7 percent tax in the unincorporated areas of the county, noting that within the past few years there has been a large growth in the number of Vacation Rentals By Owner (VRBO) properties. They estimated there are at least 25 VRBO rentals within the unincorporated areas of the county which do not collect hotel-motel tax.
The Hotel-Motel tax passed by voters does not raise rates for Cerro Gordo Country residents. Property owners will be responsible for collecting the tax from the guests who rent their property, including mobile homes and tourist courts.
Tourism officials estimated the new tax revenue could generate close to $100,000 annually.