In The News

  • MLA Part Two Videos Offer Important Education  

    Tuesday, January 14, 2020

    The Municipal Leadership Academy continues with MLA Part Two, featuring online training videos that offer guidance on planning and zoning, roles in city government, city budgets and more! For those that pre-registered, you should have received an email from the League containing links to each video and presentation. For those not registered, you can purchase access for $60 - once payment is made, you will receive an email containing links to the videos and presentations.

    MLA provides guidance on the fundamentals of city government and is designed primarily for elected officials. It is one of the best ways to get education on important topics to help city officials effectively serve their community. The three-part series includes in-person workshops and online training that begins after the regular city elections. It is widely considered essential training for elected officials, especially those recently elected to office. MLA is presented by the Iowa League of Cities and Iowa State University Extension and Outreach.

    MLA Part One was held in November and December, featuring seven workshops around the state. Held right after the city elections, these sessions were designed to provide education on the fundamentals of municipal government: Budget and Finance, Effective City Councils and Municipal Operations.

    MLA Part Two features online training videos released in early 2020. Topics covered in Part Two include The Basics of Planning & Zoning, The City Budget and You Got Elected, Now What? Registration is $60.

    MLA Part Three includes six workshops held around the state in April 2020 that help further attendee's understanding of city government. Part Three topics are Economic Development, Community Betterment and Acting Strategically. Registration is $80.

    We also ask all current city officials to share MLA information with their newly elected and appointed officials so those new to city government are aware of this critical training. Much more information, including dates and locations as well as online registration, is available on the 2019-2020 MLA website. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

  • Iowa State Extension and Outreach Asking for Feedback on Data Decision Maker Reports 

    Tuesday, January 14, 2020

    Iowa State University Extension and Outreach is asking for some feedback on how cities are using the IGFI and Data for Decision Makers reports. If you have feedback you would be willing to share, please email

  • An alert from the State Auditor 

    Tuesday, January 14, 2020

    An alert from Auditor Sand advising governmental entities to be wary of a situation that has recently come to the auditor's attention. The auditor was notified by representatives of several entities they have received emails that appear to be from vendors who are currently providing services to them and the emails are not authentic.​​​
  • Legislative session started January 13 

    Monday, January 13, 2020

    Legislative session commenced on January 13. The session is scheduled for 100 days of per diem, click here ​to view the legislative session timeline. Be sure to keep in communication with your legislator throughout the session about issues that are important to your community. Your legislator's information can be found here​​​Sign up for Legislative Link to receive updates throughout session. ​

  • Is Your City Update Done? 

    Monday, January 13, 2020

    Since the November election, the League has been working with city clerks to update city official contact information. We're preparing to publish the League's bi-annual City Directory this spring, so we're trying to get this update from every city in Iowa before the end of January. We've made good progress so far, but this information does change frequently. On January 13, we sent the second notice to cities that have not responded and sent postal mailings to those without working emails. After January 20, League staff will be calling those cities we haven't been able to contact. If you're questioning whether we've gotten your city information updated, email​​​​
  • Derelict Building Program Provides Grant Opportunity 

    Monday, January 13, 2020

    ​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 eligible communities 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 February 20. Additional information and the application form can be found on IDNR's website.​​

  • 2020 IRS Mileage Rate Announced 

    Tuesday, January 07, 2020

    ​​The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced the 2020 mileage reimbursement rates that are used to calculate the costs of operating an automobile for business purposes. Beginning January 1, the standard mileage for the use of a car, van or truck is:
    • 57.5 cents per mile for business miles driven (up 3.5 cents from 2018)
    • 17 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes 
    • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations
    Cities may reimburse city officials and employees using their own vehicles up to the IRS mileage rate. The IRS can adjust the rates during the year to reflect changes in the economy and fuel prices.
  • Cityscape ePub 

    Monday, January 06, 2020

    The League's electronic Cityscape magazine for the January 2020​ ​issue has been released.

    Take the time to select your subscription preference: print, electronic or both. Unless action is taken, your subscription will continue to note a preference for print. Visit to change your preference.​​​​​​​​​​​​​

  • Tax Increment Financing Workshop in Chariton 

    Friday, December 20, 2019

    The city of Chariton is hosting a session on understanding how Tax Increment Financing (TIF) and other economic development tools can work in improving your community’s needs. 
    Meeting details:
    Thursday, January 23, 2020 at 5:30 p.m.
    Hy-Vee Distribution Center, Conference Room 1801, Osceola Avenue, Chariton
    Please RSVP to​ by January 17, 2020. 
  • The Square Talks to Ottumwa Mayor Tom Lazio 

    Friday, December 20, 2019

    ​Happy Holidays! The Square​ closes out 2019 with an interview with Tom Lazio, Ottumwa Mayor and President of the League Board. We learned some interesting things about Mayor Lazio's career before he entered public office and how that helped prepare him to be an effective mayor. He also shared some of the great work they are doing in Ottumwa, a few of their goals for the future and what he hopes to do as League President.

    This month's Your Questions Answered asks about cities' ability to set their own council meeting rules of procedure, something we strongly encourage all cities to have. And the League's Senior Accountant, Alison Deiter, joins us for the Get to Know Your League segment. Alison's pay our bills (and issues paychecks to staff) so we took it easy on her!

    As usual, we wrap up with the answer to last month's trivia (which county in Iowa has the most cities) and ask a new trivia question: what is the lowest temperature recorded in Iowa and where? Send in your trivia answers, questions to stump our staff and other feedback to Enjoy the holidays!

  • Federal motor carrier safety administration commercial driver license testing 

    Tuesday, December 17, 2019

    The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) Commercial D​river’s License Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse is a secure, online database that will give employers and other authorized users real-time information about commercial driver’s license (CDL) and commercial learner’s permit (CLP) holders’ drug and alcohol program violations.

    Employer Checklist

    Fall 2019​

    • Must register the city with Clearinghouse
    • Verify any information in the system is up-to-date
    • In the Clearinghouse, designate any consortium/third party administrators (C/TPAs) if applicable
    • Change policy/practice to include a written consent for drivers with a commercial driver’s license (CDL) or recognized by FMCSA as safety sensitive to do an initial detailed query, and include the details for which an employer will report results to the Clearinghouse.  To view an FMCSA Sample Consent form.

    Effective January 6, 2020

    • Employers will be required to run queries ($1.25 cost per query) on new drivers they are planning to hire and currently employed drivers to check for drug and alcohol program violations
    • New Hire Query
    • Employers must run a full query on a prospective driver
    • Annual Screening
    • Employers are required to run a limited query every year on current drivers. Along with the electronic FMCSA query, until January 6, 2023, employers must conduct manual offline inquiries to previous employers for pre-employment driver investigations.
      • If the limited query returns a record, a full query must be completed
      • Make sure all staff associated with hiring and managing the testing of CDL employees understand the above changes.
    • Report drug and alcohol violations – including alcohol test results with a blood alcohol concentration of .04 or greater, refusal to submit to a drug or alcohol test and any actual knowledge of a violation.
    • Record the negative return-to-duty (RTD) test results and the date of successful completion of a follow-up testing plan.
    • All information required to be reported must be completed by the end of the third business day after the employer is informed.

    Additional links

    Employer Brochure

    CDL driver Brochure​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

  • State of Iowa Volkswagen Clean Air Act Funding Available 

    Tuesday, December 17, 2019

    The Iowa DOT is now accepting grant applications for two separate Volkswagen Settlement Environmental Mitigation Trust funding programs. Program guidance and application forms are available on the website links listed below. If you have any questions, please submit them in writing via email to Verbal questions will not be addressed. A list of written questions and answers will be available at a later date on this website​. Applications are due by February 17.​​​​
  • Iowa DOT Contract Digital Signature Update 

    Tuesday, December 17, 2019

    Beginning with the December 17 Iowa DOT Letting,​ Board of Supervisors or city council may delegate the execution of construction contracts to a county or city employee, most likely the county engineer, city public works director, or city engineer. If the Board of Supervisors or city council chooses to delegate the execution of the contract to a county or city employee, this shall be delegated in a resolution for each contract. For smaller cities that do not have any full-time employees, the mayor or city clerk may serve as the designated person to execute the contract. A consultant shall not serve as the designated person to execute the contract. A single resolution may be utilized to both award the proposed contract, as well as delegate the execution of the contract to another party.

    If you have questions, please contact Tammi Bell, e-Construction/Doc Express Administrator, at (515)239-1529 or

  • FY 2021 City Budget Form Available 

    Monday, December 16, 2019

    The Iowa Department of Management (IDOM) has released the Fiscal Year 2021 city budget form, which can be downloaded from the IDOM website along with other helpful resources and previously adopted city budgets on the City Resource page. A template of the state code Section 384.15A Maxium Property Tax Dollars public hearing notice has been included in this file, along with the changes to the Long Term Debt tab that were previewed at the Iowa League of Cities budget workshops. The current version of the city budget form does not automatically insert figures from a city's Annual Financial Report (AFR) - this tool should be added in the next two weeks and a new version of the form will be provided. In the meantime, cities can enter data on the Fund Balance pages and in the Actual 2019 column on the Re-Estimated Revenues and Expenditures pages.

    The budget form is to be used as a planning document, and cannot be used for publishing/posting and submitting the FY 2021 city budget. Creation of the hearing notices and submission of the budget can only be accomplished through the online budget system, which will be released shortly. The IDOM also released a model resolution to use for approving the city's Maximum Property Tax Dollars as required by Section 384.15A.

    As a reminder, cities cannot adopt a budget until they have filed their AFR and the Annual Urban Renewal Report (for cities with an urban renewal area and plan in effect during the fiscal year). The city budget must be completed and filed by March 31 (new deadline effictive with this budget process) each year after the city has held a public hearing and adopted the final budget by resolution.
  • Iowa Foundation for Parks and Recreation Provides Grant Opportunity 

    Friday, December 13, 2019

    The Iowa Foundation for Parks and Recreation, whose vision is to build a better Iowa through parks and recreation, is continuing their Mini-Grants for communities with a population of 10,000 or less. If your community or a local non-profit in your community is looking for additional funding to better leisure opportunities for citizens please forward this to them!

    Applications are now open and are due by Friday, January 31, 2020. Additional information about the IFPR and the mini-grants is available online. ​​​​​​