Property Tax Cap Would Save $250 Million

In fiscal year 2025, local governments will grow property taxes by more than 6%. The start of a new fiscal year on July 1 means the start of new property tax levies for cities, counties, and school districts across Iowa.  ITR Foundation has compiled the year-over-year changes in both property taxes and population/enrollment for each of those taxing authorities in […]

How Much Does Your County Have in Reserve?

Some counties may be holding on to more reserve funds than necessary. Why the numbers matter. High property taxes are the number one issue in most Iowans’ minds. When the Iowa Legislature attempts to fix this problem by lowering the amount of property tax counties and other local governments can collect, some claim they will have to cut emergency management […]

Property Tax Rates Under Iowa’s New Notification Law

Transparency requires accurate data and enforcement mechanisms when local governments don’t follow the rules. Taxpayers across the state of Iowa received notices this spring that outlined proposals their local elected officials put forth for property taxes for the upcoming fiscal year. Many citizens expressed concern about the notices because they saw significant increases from the year before. Some city leaders […]

A Look Into the Finances of Iowa’s Community Colleges

Federal, state, and local funding helps subsidize community college tuition costs. As an agricultural state, Iowa has historically had a lot of ground to cover establishing institutions of higher learning. In 1950, only one-third of Iowans aged 25 and over had high school diplomas or more education. The most-recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau raises that figure to 93% of all Iowans.   […]

Iowa’s K–12 School Debt Hits New Levels

Iowa public schools’ outstanding debt has reached $5.2 billion, equivalent to 63% of the state’s annual budget. Schools levy more property taxes than any other category of local government in Iowa. And while a large portion of their funding is driven by the school finance formula, the debt they carry is a direct reflection of local decision-making; paying off that […]

Why So Much School Debt Is Not Voter Approved

Revenue bonds do not require voter approval, and they made up 44% of total outstanding K–12 debt in 2023. Iowans are familiar with the bond votes that occur every year for local government, especially those for local school districts wanting to build new facilities or renovate existing ones. Thankfully, the Constitution of the State of Iowa places a limit on […]

Property Tax Reforms Remain Unfinished Business

The last major piece of legislation for 2024 included a technical correction to last year’s property tax law that comes with a lesson. The Iowa Legislature has recently been trying to perfect a construct that is flawed at its core: property taxes. Iowans have one of the highest property tax burdens in the country, ranking the 10th highest among states.  While […]

Local Government Guaranteed Income Programs to be Banned

This legislation properly reminds Iowa cities and counties of their expected role, while protecting property taxpayers from funding a flawed poverty prevention program.  Taxpayers across Iowa were provided with another protection by the Iowa Legislature this week, as the House and Senate sent a bill to Governor Reynolds that bans local governments from participating in guaranteed income programs.   House File […]

Not all Iowans are Taxed the Same

Iowans Deserve Predictable Taxes Wherever They ROAM Iowa shares its border with six other states, and while many Iowans live and work in the Hawkeye state, there are a number of Iowans who work elsewhere. This results in not all Iowans being taxed the same. Depending on where they live and work, the state tax liability for Iowans can vary […]

March 5th Special Election: Property Tax Increases Take Center Stage on Ballots

More than a dozen school districts and one county are seeking property tax hikes on top of assessments that are already elevated. The March 5, 2024, special election in 13 school districts and one county will put property tax increase questions before voters. The school districts are looking for increases in their physical plant and equipment levies (PPELs), which generate […]

What Is a Revenue Purpose Statement?

Voters should pay close attention to why a district wants a Revenue Purpose Statement (RPS) and what it intends to do with the proceeds. Details A Revenue Purpose Statement (RPS) is a ballot measure describing how a school district will spend sales tax funds the State of Iowa has dedicated to public schools through a program called Secure an Advanced Vision for Education […]

County Tax Relief Is Not Deprivation

Counties are cashing in on hefty property taxes from high assessments, and reducing rates won’t halt financial gains. You might hear your county officials complaining they are facing dire straits this year because of the new property tax law. The truth is that too many counties have been cashing in on hefty property taxes from rapidly increasing assessments, and redirecting […]

Twenty-First Century Good Governance at the Local Level

Access to information has become a basic government service, making democracy work. Citizens need the ability to track what government does, and policymakers must produce and have access to historical records. While “good governance” is a broad and subjective term, reviewing the outcomes of public policy decisions can tell us whether it exists or not. At the local government level, […]

Cities and Homeowners Must Replace Lead Pipes Under New Biden Administration Plan

A new EPA rule to reduce lead in drinking water will cost utilities, ratepayers, and homeowners around $80 billion. The Biden Administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new regulations requiring the removal of lead water pipes throughout the country. Lead is a known neurotoxin, and it drew national attention when it leached from pipes into the tap water of […]

Local Governments to Fund Basic Income Programs

This potential “solution” to economic inequality and poverty is nothing more than a wealth re-distribution tactic that places hard-working taxpayers in the crosshairs. The concept of “Guaranteed Income” or “Universal Basic Income” was introduced to many Iowans by Andrew Yang’s 2020 presidential campaign. Put forth as a potential solution to economic inequality and poverty, its proponents argue that providing a […]

Proposed OSHA Rule Opens Door for Abuse in Iowa

A newly-proposed rule has the potential to weaponize OSHA safety inspections — without protecting worker safety — and is certain to erode trust. Who has access to a business or other organization’s premises can be a highly sensitive matter, and public policy must make a priority of fostering trust in government agents with that authority. Unfortunately, that trust has been […]

November 2023 Local Bond Election Results

Iowa counties, cities, and schools put forward bond questions for the election yesterday across 50 counties, covering 75% of the state’s population and totaling a potential $1.72 billion in new spending. The decision facing taxpayers was whether or not they wanted to saddle themselves with new debt and higher property tax bills during a time of rising inflation and national […]

Iowa Revenue Keeps Growing With More Tax Cuts on the Horizon

Total FY2023 net revenue exceeded the REC’s March estimates. Iowa’s recently released revenue report for September revenue contains the final accounting for fiscal year 2023 (FY23). In early 2022, the Iowa Legislature enacted historic income tax reform reducing top rates and allowing taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned income. The three-member Revenue Estimating Conference (REC) predicted Iowa would bring in less money in FY23 than the prior […]