In The News

  • Iowa SMART Conference 

    Monday, February 26, 2018

    ​Registration for the Iowa SMART Economic Development Conference at the Embassy Suites Downtown in Des Moines on May 2 is open.

    The SMART Conference is Iowa’s premiere economic development conference catered to economic development professionals, business leaders, chamber of commerce executives, community leaders, elected officials and other board members who influence economic development and public policy issues across Iowa and within their own communities.

    Speakers and workshops throughout the day address topics critical to economic development including local government financing, workforce, housing, community improvement, marketing, embracing new immigrants, entrepreneurialism, tourism and preparing a community for growth.

    Learn more about the event and register on​line​.

  • Cities in the News 

    Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    ​The Iowa League of Cities collects news articles from the week to share with our members. Cities are doing great things around the state and we want to celebrate your success with you. If your city is in the news please share it with us at

    Note: The articles compiled above come from independent media sources who are solely responsible for their content. Iowa League of Cities staff did not participate in writing any of these articles and Iowa League of Cities does not necessarily endorse the content of the articles. Some articles may be available only by subscription. All cities in the news will not be featured each week.

  • Nominations Being Accepted for Governor's Art Award 

    Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    ​Nominations are being accepted for the 2018 Governor's Arts Award, which recognize artists or artist teams, nonprofits and communities that have made a significant impact on the vitality of the arts in the state. Awards are given in the following categories:

    • Governor's Arts Award
      Recognizes an Iowa artist or artist team, nonprofit organization, and city or county that has undertaken particularly significant work in the arts over the past two years (July 1, 2016 - April 1, 2018).
    • Governor's Arts Legacy Award
      Recognizes an Iowa artist or artist team, nonprofit or community that has had a particularly significant impact on the arts in Iowa over time.

    Nominations are due April 1, and winners are selected every-other-year by a panel of Iowa arts and culture professionals. The Office of the Governor and the Iowa Arts Council present the awards during the Iowa Arts Summit.

  • IGFI Posts 2017 Annual Fiscal Reports for Cities 

    Tuesday, February 20, 2018

    ​The Iowa Government Finance Initiative (IGFI) at ISU Extension recently posted the 2017 city financial reports. The reports analyze a variety of important financial data, including population, economic and education indicators. In particular, reports detail factors such as a community's age distribution, educational attainment and income distribution while also looking at city budget revenues, expenditures, fund balances and more. Cities may access reports from the IGFI to help understand their fiscal health and performance as well as how to improve financial planning efforts.​
  • League Annual Golf Outing set for June 8 

    Monday, February 19, 2018

    Save the date and join us at the League Annual Golf Outing! This year's outing will be held June 8 at Otter Creek Golf Course in Ankeny, an excellent municipal golf facility in central Iowa. All city officials and those that work with cities are invited to participate in the outing, which will be an 18-hole scramble (best shot) with a wide variety of prizes.

    In addition to being a great networking opportunity, the annual golf outing serves as a major fundraiser for the Tim Shields Endowment, which supports the education and development of local government officials. Stay tuned for more details about the outing, including online registration, in the coming weeks.

  • Three Cities Receive Healthy Hometown Community Award 

    Monday, February 19, 2018

    ​Cedar Rapids, Mason City and Sioux City all received Healthy Hometown Community Awards at the recent Iowa Healthiest State Initiative annual awards ceremony. Supported by Wellmark, the awards recognize each city's accomplishments in health improvement initiatives within their respective communities. Each will receive $5,000 to continue the important work of improving the physical, social and emotional well-being of their communities.

    Cedar Rapids was recognized for its Farmers' Market, which began accepting SNAP payments in 2017, established a free shuttle to the market and donated more than 3,000 meals. Mason City earned its award by encouraging a more active community through improvements to its bicycle infrastructure, including new bike racks, bike repair stations, setting up a bike share program and more. And Sioux City was awarded for its work in creating a school-based garden program, completing two safe-routes to school plans, trail expansions and expanding smoke-free policies.

  • IDOT Announces Federal-Aid Swap Policy 

    Thursday, February 15, 2018

    ​The Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently announced a new policy for the Federal-Aid Swap program, which will become effective in October 2018. The policy is administered by the IDOT and handles approximately $500 million per year in federal funding for transportation projects (approximately $165 million goes to local jurisdictions). In essence, the Federal-Aid Swap is designed to make for a more efficient exchange of federal, state and local transportation funding.

    Major components of the policy of interest to cities include project funding match requirements, the Surface Transportation Block Grant program, City Bridge program and the Highway Safety Improvement Program. The policy also details project development guidelines, the role of metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) and regional planning affiliations (RPAs), potential city requirements to adhere to environmental oversight and more.

    The League will continue to research these changes in consultation with the IDOT and provide additional details this year.

  • Make Plans to Attend MLA Part Three 

    Wednesday, February 14, 2018

    The Municipal Leadership Academy (MLA) provides city officials with a curriculum to assist them in effectively meeting the requirements of their office. The program offers a comprehensive overview of Iowa municipal government and is presented by the Iowa League of Cities, the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Iowa and the Office of State and Local Government Programs at Iowa State University Extension. Register for MLA events by using the online registration system or print off a paper registration form and send in payment. 

    MLA Part Three is designed for those looking for more in-depth information on the challenges facing cities. Attendees will hear some of the hottest topics in city government, network with other city officials, share a meal and discuss common concerns.

    MLA Part Three will be presented at the following locations: 

    • Ottumwa (Thursday, April 5) 
    • Iowa City (Saturday, April 7)
    • Griswold (Thursday, April 12) 
    • Storm Lake (Saturday, April 14)  
    • Cedar Falls (Thursday, April 19) 
    • Johnston (Saturday, April 21)

    MLA Part Three will build on the information introduced in the first two sessions (although attendance at earlier MLA sessions is not required). The program will feature a presentation on community betterment, which will include a discussion and examples of how city officials can improve their cities through nuisance abatement. A presentation on strategic planning and goal setting will allow city leaders to look into the future to better anticipate issues facing their community. The final presentation will discuss the city’s role in economic development with an overview of the tools used by cities to retain and attract businesses. Registration for MLA Part Three is $75. Additional information and online registration can be found here. Questions regarding MLA can be directed to Mark Tomb at or (515) 244-7282.​​​​​​​​

  • Advanced Accounting and CAFR Preparation Class 

    Tuesday, February 13, 2018

    Iowa State University (ISU) Extension and Outreach's Office of State and Local Government Programs is excited to announce a one-day, advanced accounting course for cities that do, or are considering, cash to accrual conversions at year-end and/or in-house Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) preparation for the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Certificate in Excellence in Financial Reporting. This session will be from 8:30-5 p.m. on Tuesday, March 20 at the Polk County Extension Office, 1625 Adventureland Dr in Altoona.

    This class will instruct participants on understanding and applying year-end cash to accrual accounting conversion for cities and utilities. Particular emphasis will be placed on the reconciliation adjustments to the government-wide statements and maintenance of government-wide funds. Participants will also learn how to prepare a CAFR in compliance with the GFOA guidelines. This event is sponsored by the Iowa Municipal Professionals Institute/Academy and qualifies for eight hours of Flex or Financial Credit for IIMC and IMFOA certification programs. Credits can also be applied to CPE for CPAs.

    The $300 fee includes breaks and a BBQ luncheon. Travel, expenses and housing are the responsibility of the participant. 

    Online registration is available. Fees must be paid before the session begins on March 20. Please register as soon as possible to ensure that we have the minimum participation threshold satisfied.  

    Questions? Please contact ISU Extension and Outreach at (515) 294-1844​.

  • IMWCA Regional Workshop 

    Tuesday, February 13, 2018

    The Iowa Muncipalities Workers' Compensation Association (IMWCA) offers Regional Workshops across the state in January and February. This week the workshops will be held in Hiawatha, Bedford and Oskaloosa.

    Topics include Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) online reporting, human resource issues facing municipalities and a workers’ compensation rate update.


    Workshops are free and open to all cities, but please register online​.


  • Volunteer Fire Chief Workshop to be Held March 17 

    Monday, February 12, 2018

    ​The annual Volunteer Fire Chiefs Workshop, hosted by the Fire Service Training Bureau and the Iowa Fire Chiefs Association, will be held March 17 in Ames. The event offers a training opportunity for fire chiefs and officers of volunteer and combination fire departments, although members of career departments are also welcome.

    This year's workshop will include presentations on pipeline response, "winning" in the fire service, reducing trauma and drama in the firehouse, and more. The registration deadline is March 3.​

  • All-Star Community Award 

    Friday, February 09, 2018

    Tell us what your city accomplished in 2017, and your project could encourage excellence in other communities.

    The All-Star Community Award program provides a means for sharing Iowa’s public service ideas. Applications must be submitted using the online entry form and are due Monday, April 2.

    After the panel of judges chooses winners from each population category, the remaining applications will be entered into a bracket-style tournament for public "Liking" (voting) on Facebook. Winning projects will be recognized at the League’s 2017 Annual Conference & Exhibit, featured in this magazine and brought to the attention of local media.

    Don’t miss this chance to promote the wonderful things your city did in 2017! Learn more and see previous applications and winners online.​​

  • Home Rule 50th Anniversary Proclamation 

    Friday, February 09, 2018

    Join the League and cities across the state in acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the Home Rule Constitutional Amendment by passing a proclamation stating that local control “continues to be vital to the health and prosperity of all cities in Iowa.” A sample proclamation​ is available online.

    In 1968, the Home Rule Amendment was passed by the citizens of Iowa and constitutionalized local control in the state. This transitioned Iowa from a Dillon’s Rule state, where local government powers are derived exclusively from the state legislature, to a Home Rule state where local government powers are derived from the State Constitution.


    The League is planning a yearlong celebration with members to mark this historic event. In addition to recognitions at League events throughout 2018, you will find articles in each issue of Cityscape magazine exploring the history and impact of cities’ Home Rule authority. 


  • Two Supreme Court Cases to Test Local Authority 

    Thursday, February 08, 2018

    ​A recent article in CitiesSpeak, the official blog of the National League of Cities (NLC), highlighted two upcoming U.S. Supreme Court cases that will impact local authority.

    In Lozman v. City of Riviera Beach, a resident regularly criticized the city's plan to redevelop a marina using eminent domain. At a council meeting, Lozman refused to stop talking and was eventually arrested, although he was ultimately not charged with disorderly conduct or resisting arrest. Lozman then sued the city, claiming he was arrested in violation of his rights to free speech under the First Amendment while the city argued that he had been arrested for violating the public comment rule during the council meeting. The lower courts have ruled against Lozman, who will argue at the Supreme Court that he can still bring a First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim, even if probable cause existed to arrest him.

    The State and Local Legal Center (SLLC), a partner with NLC and several other municipal organizations, filed an amicus brief arguing that "...the Supreme Court should hold that arrestees must prove the absence of probable cause to bring a First Amendment retaliatory arrest claim. If officers can still be sued even when probable cause is present, states and local governments will face serious difficulty in maintaining order at public events."

    In Salt River Agricultural Improvement and Power District v. SolarCity, the issue involves a company that sells and leases rooftop solar panels (SolarCity) and a political subdivision in Arizona that provides power to residents (Salt River Power District). SolarCity claims Salt River established a new pricing structure to prevent the installation of additional solar panels and by doing so had violated federal antitrust law. Salt River argued that it is immune from federal antitrust liability because of the state-action doctrine, which provides states and, in some instances, local governments immunity from federal antitrust liability. SLLC has argued that “important federalism and policy considerations” weigh in favor of allowing states and local governments to appeal denials of state-action immunity immediately. More specifically, “because the extension of state-action immunity to governmental entities is rooted in the state’s own sovereign immunity, permitting interlocutory appeal is necessary to respect state sovereignty.”

    More information about these cases and others that affect municipal governments will be covered in a SLLC Supreme Court Midterm Webinar on March 15.

  • Derelict Building Grant Applications Due April 4 

    Tuesday, February 06, 2018

    ​Cities with fewer than 5,000 in population are eligible to apply for funding through the Derelict Building Program. Administered by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), the program works with small communities to help improve the attractiveness and appearance of their towns by providing financial assistance to address neglected structures that have been vacant for at least six months. Each project must have a landfill diversion component through the recycling and reuse of materials. Established in 2011, the program has assisted 115 communities, diverted more than 46,000 tons of materials and saved more than $1.5 million in landfill disposal costs.

    Funding assistance is available for a variety of projects, including asbestos inspection and abatement, structural engineering analysis, environmental site assessment, building renovation and building deconstruction. Funding is awarded on a competitive basis. Grant applications must be filed with the IDNR by April 4. Additional information and the application form can be found on IDNR's Web site.