In The News

  • Main Street Iowa Awards Recognize Community Achievements 

    Friday, April 20, 2018

    ​The Main Street Iowa program at the Iowa Economic Development Authority recently held its annual awards celebration to recognize and honor those who work in downtown revitalization across the state. The annual awards event honors outstanding accomplishments, activities and people that are making a difference in Iowa’s Main Street districts. Projects large and small are recognized and serve as outstanding examples representing historic commercial district revitalization.

    The 2018 award recipients included 13 communities that have reached significant milestones for private investment while four cities achieved important anniversaries as a Main Street Community. Also, the city of West Des Moines and the Historic Valley Junction Foundation received the Signature Project Award for their involvement in the CoSign program in Historic Valley Junction’s historic commercial district.

    Since 1986 the Main Street Iowa program has helped create a net gain of more than 14,000 jobs while nearly $2 billion of investment has occurred in building projects around the state.

  • Cities in the News 

    Tuesday, April 17, 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

    News about the Backfill

    ​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.
  • MLA Part Three Continues in Cedar Falls and Johnston, Storm Lake Rescheduled  

    Monday, April 16, 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 Iow​a 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.

    ​Remaining MLA Part Three locations: 
    • Cedar Falls (Thursday, April 19) 
    • Johnston (Saturday, April 21)
    • Storm Lake (Saturday, April 28) Note: This session rescheduled due to weather 

    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.​​​​​​​​​​​


  • Register Now for the League Annual Golf Fundraiser 

    Monday, April 16, 2018

    ​Registration is open for the League's Annual Golf Fundraiser! The outing will be held Friday, June 8 at Otter Creek Golf in Ankeny, a fabulous municipal golf course that offers a fun and challenging 18 holes as well as enjoyable amenities. The outing will begin at 11:30 a.m. with registration and access to the driving range beginning at 10 a.m. Four person teams will play in a best shot format featuring numerous prizes for teams and individuals. Registration costs $75/player, which includes a lunch. All city officials and those that work with cities are invited to play!

    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.

  • Motor Grader Operator Training 

    Monday, April 16, 2018

    Registration is pen for the 2018 Motor Grader Operator Training (MoGO)​ workshops through Iowa LTAP. MoGO is led by experienced operators. Day one is a classroom session and day two is an optional field session in which the instructors will travel to their students’ site to advise them on the use of their equipment. The program reflects the 2015 revision of the “Gravel Roads Construction & Maintenance Guide”. All motor grader operators and their supervisors are encouraged to attend.


    The dates and locations for this year’s workshops are:


    • May1 | NE Iowa Community College in Calmar                       
    • May 8 | Johnson County Secondary Roads in Iowa City                             
    • May 15 | Buena Vista County Extension in Storm Lake
    • May 22 | Cass County Community Center in Atlantic
    • May 30 | Holiday Inn in Ames


    Registration and more information are on the event Web page.
  • Healthiest State Initiative to Host Annual Conference May 17 

    Friday, April 13, 2018

    ​The Healthiest State Initiative will hold its annual conference May 17 at the Scheman Building in Ames. The full-day conference offers a variety of training on workplace and community wellness, including improving office culture, how to influence community health, how to break the stigma of mental health in the workplace and more.

    Individuals from local government, nonprofits and the private sector are all welcome to attend the conference, which seeks to further the mission of the Initiative to make Iowa the healthiest state in the nation.

  • NLC Releases Updated State Preemption Report 

    Thursday, April 12, 2018

    ​The National League of Cities (NLC) released an updated version of its City Rights in an Era of Preemption report, which looks at the level of Home Rule powers that cities hold in each state and the ways state preemption has limited local control. The report was initially released last year and offers details on how preemption works to limit municipal authority to adopt specific policies and laws, including taxes and expenditures, minimum wage, paid leave, anti-discrimination and more. The updated version reviews 19 laws that were adopted over the past year that preempt city Home Rule authority.
  • 18 Cities Awarded Community Catalyst Funds 

    Monday, April 09, 2018

    ​The Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA) recently announced its 2018 Community Catalyst funding recipients. 18 communities will receive a total of $1.8 million in funding through the Community Catalyst program, which assists communities with the redevelopment, rehabilitation or deconstruction of buildings to stimulate economic growth or reinvestment in the community. The 18 recipients received the total maximum award of $100,000 while another five cities received $5,000 community technical assistance planning grants. As required by program rules, at least 40 percent of the grants were awarded to cities with populations of less than 1,500.

    The Community Catalyst program is funded through an appropriation from the Iowa Legislature. This is the first year these grants are being made available via the IEDA and continued funding is based on annual availability.

  • Update for Cities Participating in Census LUCA Program 

    Monday, April 09, 2018

    ​Cities that have registered to participate in the U.S. Census Bureau's Local Update of Census Addresses (LUCA) program should receive notification by the end of April (cities began receiving notice in February). Once cities have received LUCA Review Materials they have 120 calendar days from the date of receipt to complete their review and return their submission to the U.S. Census Bureau.

    Additional guidance on this process and the LUCA program can be found on the National League of Cities Web site, including a map of cities and other local governments that have registered to participate in the program.

  • What Does the Backfill Mean for Your City 

    Monday, April 09, 2018

    SF295 was adopted in 2013 and hailed as “the largest property tax cut in Iowa’s history.” The stated purpose of the bill was to provide property tax relief to commercial and industrial property taxpayers. Throughout the legislative process it was realized that such a large revenue cut would have detrimental impacts to local government finances and the services they provide to citizens. To address this concern, a compromise was made to replace, or “backfill”, the direct loss with an amount that would increase for a couple of years and then be “frozen” in Fiscal Year 2017.

    However, legislative proposals this year would reduce or eliminate this backfill over time resulting in less revenue for cities to provide the services their citizens expect. Learn more about what the backfill means for your city with this one-page explanation or you can find an Excel spreadsheet containing the breakdown of the backfill dollars divided by the entities that receive them. ​

  • All-Star Community Award 

    Friday, April 06, 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 24.

    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 2018 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.​​​​​​​

  • SAFER Grants Available to Support Fire Service 

    Monday, April 02, 2018

    ​Cities can apply for Staffing for Adequate Fire & Emergency Response Grants (SAFER), available through the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Federal Emergency Management Agency. The grant program provides funding directly to fire departments and volunteer firefighter interest organizations to help them increase or maintain the number of trained, front line firefighters available in their communities. The goal of SAFER is to enhance the local fire departments' abilities to comply with staffing, response and operational standards.

    Applications are due April 27. Additional information and online grant applications are available on the SAFER Web site.

  • Grants Available Through U.S. Department of Justice 

    Monday, April 02, 2018

    ​The Bureau of Justice Assistance at the U.S. Department of Justice has two funding opportunities for local law enforcement and criminal justice programs. The Technology Innovation for Public Safety (TIPS) Addressing Precipitous Increases in Crime provides grants to local law enforcement agencies for the implementation of innovative and replicable projects that combat precipitous increases in crime, with an emphasis on addressing violent crime, human trafficking and the opioid crisis. Applications are due May 1.

    Another opportunity is the Innovations in Community-Based Crime Reduction Training and Technical Assistance Program, which provides funding to local groups to  plan and implement place-based, community-oriented strategies to address persistent and high crime neighborhood issues as part of a broader neighborhood revitalization or redevelopment initiative. Applications for this program are due April 30.

  • April is Keep Iowa Beautiful Month 

    Sunday, April 01, 2018

    ​April is Keep Iowa Beautiful Month, and cities are encouraged to help celebrate by promoting local beautification, clean up and recycling projects. Cities can also issue proclamations designating April as Keep (your city name) Beautiful Month. A sample proclamation is available on the Keep Iowa Beautiful Web site.

    Keep Iowa Beautiful is a charitable organization that works with citizens, communities and regions to improve the quality, beauty and cleanliness of Iowa. The organization empowers Iowans to have a greater commitment in building pride and respect in the places we live.

  • Registration Opens for Nuisance Abatement Conference 

    Monday, March 26, 2018

    ​Registration is now open for the 2018 Nuisance Abatement Conference, a new training opportunity that will feature guidance on how cities can effectively deal with nuisance properties. The day-long conference will be held May 16 at the Gateway Conference Center in Ames and costs $75 (registration includes lunch).

    All cities are forced to deal with nuisance properties at some point, ranging from minor yard violations to serious derelict and abandoned building problems. Effectively managing nuisance abatement can help rebuild homes and buildings, return dormant properties to an active use and restore community pride. The conference will cover these issues and offer guidance on developing a plan for nuisance abatement activities, financing abatement efforts, tax sales and acquiring abandoned property, proactively addressing nuisance properties and much more.