Author: ITR Local

Public Hearing Information

Public Hearing Information

It’s no secret that Iowans are frustrated with property taxes.

Every year, we find ourselves paying more and more just to live in our own homes. The problem isn’t assessments, complicated rollback formulas, or what’s happening in the state legislature.

The real issue with property taxes is how local governments are spending our money. The good news is that now is the time of year when we can take action to address our taxes.

Keep an eye on your mailbox around March 20, 2024, for notices about public budget hearings for your city, county, and school district.

The notification looks like a spreadsheet, and it might not be clear what will happen to your tax bill. Use information from the notification and assessor in our Property Tax Calculator to see if your bill will increase.

However, the most important information is the date, time, and place of your public hearing.

If you don’t understand what you are looking at, click here to contact us.

We will be glad to review the information the local governments sent you and determine whether it will increase your property taxes.

These hearings give local elected officials a chance to explain why they need to increase your tax bill and take more of your hard-earned money. But more importantly, it’s your chance to tell them how a tax increase would affect your household budget. After all, your budget should be what matters most!

As Americans, it’s our duty to participate and ask questions of our government.

That’s why we’re urging all Iowans who care about their property tax burden to attend and speak at their city, county, and school budget hearings.

Examples of what others have said:

  • “Will your proposed budget increase my property tax bill?”
  • “Please don’t play the blame game. I know the assessor only places a value on my property, but YOU create the budget and determine the amount of my tax bill.”
  • “I didn’t buy ________________ because my property tax bill went up.”
  • “Inflation destroyed my budget. I had to decide what I could buy and what I couldn’t. The city/county/school needs to do the same.”

Your feedback can have real consequences and might help control your property tax bill. Even hearing from just a few people on an issue could signal a groundswell of opinion. So, it’s crucial for you and your neighbors to show up and share how property tax increases impact your lives.

Download our Property Tax Public Hearing Guide for a template of what to say when you attend your public budget hearing.

Amplify the voice of taxpayers by sharing this information with your neighbors. Working together we can start to see some property tax relief!

FREE PDF DOWNLOAD

The True Cost of Property Taxes

Many city, county, and school governments seem to disregard Iowans’ struggle to achieve when their only focus is more taxpayer money to spend on their special projects.

According to a recent WalletHub article, Iowa has one of the highest property tax burdens in the country. The 1.49 percent of their home’s value Iowans pay in property taxes yearly ranks as the 10th highest in the country.

Real-Life Impact

ITR recently heard about a woman’s journey trying to improve her life. She escaped her abusive husband, and after living in her car, under bridges with her three children, she ended up in a homeless shelter. With the shelter’s support, she got back on her feet and went back to school. She now has a degree in counseling and works full-time at the homeless shelter. Her kids are all good students, and her sons are now volunteer firefighters in the community. One of the things she is most proud of now is that she is a homeowner.

She worked hard to own a house but now is coming to grips with the property tax burden that comes with it. Her city, school, and county governments seem to disregard her struggle to achieve when their only focus is more taxpayer money to spend on their special projects.

The government needs to quit taking so much.

Property taxes were an unnecessary hurdle for her. Rent increases because landlords have no choice but to pass on that expense. Businesses struggle to afford leases because of tight profit margins. For homeowners, do they even own their own homes?

Think about your grocery bill, your gas bill, everything else. Expenses increase, and affordability decreases.

Paying 1.49 percent of your home value yearly for property taxes is simply too much. It needs to come down. Reducing our collective tax burden is better for us economically, but these things impact every Iowan at a fundamental level and change how people live their lives.

Property tax bills are determined right now.

Next year’s local government’s proposed budgets will soon be finalized. Many county supervisors have been lashing out at legislators and policies as simple as the assessment rollback. They point the finger at everyone but themselves because they have a tight budget and lose sight of the fact that Iowans don’t want to pay this much.

Local officials cannot see Iowans are overtaxed on their property taxes. Their entire paradigm is based on their local budget and what it means for them.

We’ve heard from many state legislators who are sick and tired of being lectured by city and county officials. The legislature gets it and knows how upset Iowans are because they go door to door and hear it from voters. Remember, last year’s property tax relief bill passed with only one dissenting vote.

Upset city councilmen and county supervisors try to blame and lecture those dastardly legislators of both parties who simply stood up for their citizens when their local government wouldn’t do it anymore.

The vast majority of these local governments are just flat wrong when complaining about cuts. Revenue was not cut; the legislature just limited their growth. Simply put:  Property tax revenue collected by cities and counties will continue to increase.

Only in government is slowing the growth of spending seen as a cut. Cal Thomas once said:

“It’s funny that government can never afford to cut taxes or spending, but taxpayers are never asked whether they can afford higher taxes.

When your city council, county board of supervisors, or school board chooses to increase spending and raise property taxes, they need to clearly explain why the government needs the money more than you do.

Take Action!

Use the menu at the top of this page to see how your community’s property taxes have grown compared to inflation, population, and school enrollment. Use this information to learn more about your local government budgets, share it with your neighbors, and start a conversation with your elected officials.

Keep an eye on your mailbox. Property tax public hearing notices will be mailed in March. ITR will keep you updated and provide information for you to share when you attend.

General Service and Rural Services Levy Rate Change

General Service and Rural Services Levy Rate Change

The maps below show the change in the General Services (county-wide) and Rural Services (rural only) levy rates from FY 2023 to FY 2024. Blue counties increased rates, light green decreased rates, and gray counties had no change.

County Per Capita Spending

County Per Capita Spending

When your county supervisors create a budget and decide how much to spend, they also set the rate, which determines the county’s portion of your property taxes, which is the third largest part of your total bill behind school districts and cities.

City Per Capita Spending

City Per Capita Spending

When your city council creates a budget and decides how much to spend, they also set the rate, which determines the city’s portion of your property taxes, which is the second largest part of your total bill behind school districts.

School District Debt

School District Debt

Debt can crowd out other priorities from the budget. A temporary increase for a good reason is understandable, but constant, high levels of debt put the taxpayer on the hook for more interest payments in the future. School districts should pay off debt in a timely manner without taking on additional burdens.

The map and table below show each district’s enrollment and a four-year history of debt per capita.

Click on a column heading to sort.

County Debt

County Debt

Debt can crowd out other priorities from the budget. A temporary increase for a good reason is understandable, but constant, high levels of debt put the taxpayer on the hook for more interest payments in the future. County supervisors should pay off debt in a timely manner without taking on additional burdens.

The map and table below show each county’s population and a four-year history of debt per capita.

Click on a column heading to sort.

School District Spending

School District Spending

When your school board creates a budget and decides how much to spend, they also set the rate, which determines the school district portion of your property taxes, which is the largest part of your total bill.

The Iowa Department of Education states, “Per pupil expenditure amounts, while informative, provide an incomplete framework in which to understand statewide, district, or school expenditure levels. A wide range of per pupil expenditure values exist as the result of a multitude of district and school differences statewide.

School District Property Tax Rates

School District Property Tax Rates

When your school board creates a budget and decides how much to spend, they also set the rate, which determines the school district portion of your property taxes, which is the largest part of your total bill.

The table below shows the underlying rates that comprise a district’s total levy rate. The Iowa Department of Management is the source of this data.

Most property tax levies for Iowa’s public schools are set by the state’s funding formula. However, the levies highlighted in blue and marked with an ” * ” are set by each district’s school board. Ask your board members about these levies and where they are spending your money.

FY 2024 amount paid for each $1,000 of taxable value. Click on a column heading to sort.

County Property Tax Rates

County Property Tax Rates

When your county supervisors create a budget and decide how much to spend for county services, they also set the rate, which determines the county portion of your property tax bill.

The table below shows the underlying rates that comprise a county’s total levy rate. The Iowa Department of Management is the source of this data.

FY 2024 amount paid for each $1,000 of taxable value. Click on a column heading to sort.

© 2023 Iowans for Tax Relief and ITR Foundation