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Cities are the second largest part of your property tax bill, just behind school districts.

The amount local governments choose to spend determines your tax bill, not assessments, taxable values, exemptions, or credits. A reasonable property tax growth rate would be one that is close to the combined percent change of inflation and the city’s population. If your taxes are unreasonable, take advantage of public hearings to let your city council know how you feel.

Line item expenditures included in each category are listed below. Not every expenditure is used by every city.

Business Type/Enterprise: Electric Utility, Gas Utility, Sewer Utility, Stormwater Utility, Water Utility, Housing Authority, Landfill/Gargage, Transit, Enterprise Capital Projects, Enterprise TIF Projects, Enterprise Debt Service, Airport, and Cable TV/Internet/Telephone

General Government: City Hall/General Buildings, Clerk/Treasurer/Finance Adm., Elections, Legal Services/City Attorney, Mayor/Council/City Manager, and Tort Liability

Public Safety: Police Dept/Crime Prevention, Fire Dept, Building Inspections, Jail, Flood Control, Animal Control, Emergency Management, and Ambulance

Community & Economic Development: Community Beautification, Economic Development, Housing & Urban Renewal, Planning & Zoning, and TIF Rebates

Public Works: Roads/Bridges/Sidewalks, Traffic Control & Safety, Street Lighting, Street Cleaning, Highway Engineering, Parking - Meter & Off-Street, Snow Removal, Garbage (if not Enterprise), Airport (if not Enterprise)

Culture & Recreation: Library Services, Parks, Recreation, Cemetery, Museum/Band/Theater, Community Center, Zoo & Marina

Health & Social Services: Welfare Assistance, Community Mental Health, City Hospital, Payments to Private Hospitals, Water/Air/Mosquito Control, and Health Regulation & Inspection

Sources: United States Census Bureau, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, and Iowa Dept. of Management. Calculations and charts by Iowans for Tax Relief and ITR Foundation.

© 2023 Iowans for Tax Relief and ITR Foundation