In The News

  • IPERS Requires Employers to Annually Certify Section 125 Plans 

    Wednesday, April 27, 2016

    Many employers offer elective employer contributions to Section 125 plans in which some of the contributions can be received by their employees as cash. If certain conditions are met, employer contributions to fringe benefit programs that qualify under Internal Revenue Code (IRC) Section 125 may be treated as covered wages by the Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System (IPERS). In the past, IPERS did not require employers to certify that their Section 125 plan complied with IRC rules. Effective January 1, 2017, employers offering employer contributions to a fringe benefit plan must certify that their Section 125 plan meets all IRC requirements. Employer contributions to fringe benefit plans that have not been certified will be excluded from IPERS coverage.

    • A Section 125 plan is an employer‐sponsored fringe benefit plan that is subject to Section 125 of the federal IRC. Some of the common names for this type of plan are cafeteria plan, flexible benefits plan, flex plan and flexible spending arrangement.
    • Employer contributions that are considered IPERS‐covered wages are those contributions made to a Section 125 plan that can be received in cash or used to purchase benefits. The employer contributions must be uniformly available. Code of Iowa section 97B.1A(26)(a)(1)(b) states that elective employer contributions shall be treated as covered wages only if made uniformly available and not limited to highly compensated employees.
    • See the Employer Handbook, Section 4 (IPERS‐Covered Wages and Compensation), for a full discussion of coverage rules related to Section 125 plans.
    • Employer contributions that must be used to purchase benefits under a Section 125 plan (e.g., where the employee has no choice to take in cash) cannot be IPERS‐covered wages.  

    Annual Certification Form Due by December 31
    The certification form is available on the IPERS Web site. Return your completed form to IPERS by December 31, 2016, if you are going to continue coverage of these employer contributions as IPERS‐covered wages. Employer contributions to fringe benefit plans that are not certified cannot be considered IPERS‐covered wages. Annual certification is required by December 31.  

    Inquiries
    For further information, contact the IPERS Employer Relations Bureau at (877) 473‐7799​.

     
  • 2016 Tim Shields Endowment Golf Outing to be Held June 10 

    Monday, April 25, 2016

    ​The annual Tim Shields Endowment Golf Fundraiser will be held Friday, June 10 at 11 a.m. at Oakland Acres Golf Club in Oakland Acres. The format of the outing will be 4-person best-shot, and prizes for top team along with various hole prizes will be handed out. All city officials and event sponsors are invited to play as well as form their own 4-person teams.

    The golf outing raises money for the Tim Shields Endowment, which provides education and leadership development for local elected and appointed officials. Please contact Mickey Shields at the League with any questions or to register and submit a team, mickeyshields@iowaleague.org or (515) 244-7282.

    What: Tim Shields Endowment Annual Golf Fundraiser
    When: Friday, June 10 | 11 a.m.
    Where: Oakland Acres Golf Club, Oakland Acres
    Cost: $65/player

    About the Endowment
    Tim Shields was a former director of the Institute of Public Affairs at the University of Iowa. Tim is best known from his tireless service in that capacity for 24 years until his passing on May 26, 2004. Working for the Institute, Tim traveled the state, providing leadership training, facilitating strategic visioning exercises for communities and warmly encouraging the best municipal service possible for citizens.

    The Tim Shields Endowment Fund was created to memorialize and further Tim’s belief in quality municipal government in the state of Iowa. The endowment provides education and leadership development for local elected and appointed officials. Direct contributions to the endowment may be sent to: Tim Shields Endowment Fund, c/o The Community Foundation of Johnson County, 325 E. Washington Street, Iowa City, IA 52240.
     
  • IPRA's Pool Manager Workshop to be Held May 16 

    Monday, April 25, 2016

    ​The Iowa Park and Recreation Association (IPRA) will host its annual Pool Manager Workshop on May 16 in Ames. Topics covered will include the state health code for pools, lifeguard training, tips for teaching water skills and leadership development. The workshop is designed for anyone supervising an aquatics facility, especially the "on-site supervisor." Head lifeguards, parks and recreation directors, aquatics supervisors, pool managers and many others would benefit from this workshop. Contact Carolyn Hamilton, IPRA Aquatics Committee Chair, at (319)286-5737 or c.hamilton@cedar-rapids.org for additional information and to register for the event.

     
  • Placemaking Webinar Coming on May 17 

    Friday, April 22, 2016

    The 2016 League Webinar Series continues May 17 with Placemaking: Building Your Community Identity. The pre-recorded webinar will discuss the importance of each community's identity and ways cities can enhance their sense of place.

    What: Placemaking: Building Your Community Identity
    Release Date: May 17
    Speakers: Jennifer Drinkwater, Iowa State University Extension
    Registration: $35 | Register Online

    A sense of place is important for all communities as it helps give a positive identity for residents and an image that can attract businesses and visitors. So how do you build that sense of place? Placemaking is a method to identify ways to build a positive image for a community, which can include public art, cultural attractions, recreational opportunities and much more.
     
    Below are the webinars to be released later this year. More information is available on the 2016 Webinar Series page.
    • Understanding Iowa's Property Tax System | Available Now
    • Assessing and Replacing Outdated Utility Infrastructure | Available Now
    • Placemaking: Building Your Community Identity | May 17
    • Open Meetings and Open Records Laws and Best Practices | August 16
    • Human Resources Management for Cities | October 18

    Each webinar will be pre-recorded and released on the date listed. The webinars will be archived, giving registrants the ability to access and view any purchased webinar whenever they like. Webinars from the 2014 series and 2015 series are also archived and available for purchase.  

     
  • Prepare for Tree Threats with a Free Tree Inventory 

    Friday, April 22, 2016

    The Iowa Department of Natural Resources Forestry Bureau has 10 openings this summer for free tree inventory and management plans for communities under 5,000 in population. The city can use the results to calculate the benefits the trees in your community provide the city and its residents.

    A tree inventory is the gathering of accurate information on the health and diversity of the community forest. How many street trees are there? What kind? In what condition are they? You cannot manage the community forest effectively unless you know its condition and tree inventories are an essential tool of good management.

    To get on the tree inventory list please contact Matt Brewer at (319) 440-2078 or 
    matt.brewer@dnr.iowa.gov. Additional information on tree inventories can be found on the Forestry Bureau's Web site​​​

     
  • HUD Choice Neighborhoods Program Offers Funding Opportunity 

    Friday, April 22, 2016

    ​The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) recently announced its Choice Neighborhoods Program is accepting grant applications. The program supports locally driven strategies to address struggling neighborhoods with distressed public or HUD-assisted housing through a comprehensive approach to neighborhood transformation. It is designed to catalyze critical improvements in neighborhood assets, including vacant property, housing, services and schools.

    Approximately $120 million is available for awards in Fiscal Year 2016, and grant applications are due June 28. Additional information about the program and grant application requirements are available on the Choice Neighborhoods Program Web site.

     
  • May 1-May 7 Designated City Clerk Week 

    Tuesday, April 19, 2016

    The International Institute of Municipal Clerks has designated May 1 through May 7 as the 47th Annual Municipal Clerk's Week. This week celebrates the historical and vital services that the Municipal Clerk's office provides for local governments and their communities world wide.

    The Iowa League of Cities also takes this opportunity to thank city clerks across Iowa for the work they do and their contributions to cities across the state. Thank you, city clerks!

     
  • Has Your City Recently Appointed a New Council Member or Mayor?  

    Monday, April 18, 2016

    Part One and Part Two of the Municipal Leadership Academy (MLA) are available as online courses. Attending MLA is one of the first steps a new city official should take toward success in public office. From open meetings to city finances, these sessions are designed to quickly bring officials up to speed on municipal issues. Current officials will also find incredible value in the up-to-date information on municipal operations. 

    MLA Part One is an online training that includes a copy of the 2016 Iowa Municipal Policy Leaders’ Handbook ($30 value). The program includes the latest information and policy guidance on: Budget and Finance, Effective City Councils, Municipal Operations and Ethics. Cost: $75.

    MLA Part Two is an online training that can be viewed all at once or separately in order to fit within a city’s orientation program for new officials. Topics: The City Budget, Basics of Planning and Zoning and an orientation session titled You Got Elected, Now What? The orientation session covers strategies for success in office, dealing with major personnel issues, meeting basics and a brief overview of roles and responsibilities. Cost: $60.

     
  • Registration Open for 2016 Small City Workshops 

    Monday, April 18, 2016

    Registration is open for the 2016 Small City Workshops! Dates and locations for the annual series have been set for six workshops around the state in June with information and guidance designed for small city officials.

    This year's workshops will focus on understanding the environmental regulation of water and wastewater utilities and explaining potential resources for improving water infrastructure for smaller communities. Representatives from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources will join us to discuss their role in assessing, permitting and inspecting utility systems. Attendees will then discuss how they can prepare for utility system improvements, including planning methods, funding and budgeting strategies and effectively communicating with the public.

    All workshops are scheduled for 5:30-8 p.m. and the cost is $40 (dinner is included). The workshops will be held on the following dates and locations:

    June 7 – Sigourney
    June 9 – Hartley
    June 14 – Stanton
    June 16 – Cascade
    June 21 – Nashua
    June 23 – Ogden

    Additional information about the workshops and online registration is available on the 2016 Small City Workshops page.
     
  • Community Forestry Grants Available Through U.S. Forest Service 

    Monday, April 18, 2016

    ​The U.S. Forest Service has funding available through its Urban and Community Forestry Grant Program. Cities are eligible to apply for the grants, which are designed to fund proposals for program development, study and collaboration that will launch some of the new strategies in the (2016-2026) Ten Year Urban Forestry Action Plan.

    Grant applications are due June 17. More information about the program and grant application process is available on the U.S. Forest Service Web site.

     
  • NACO Mapping Tool 

    Monday, April 18, 2016

    The National Association of Counties (NACo) has released a mapping tool that provides a wealth of local government information and indicators, including local demographics, transportation factors, housing, health, finance and more.​​​​
     
  • Healthiest State Initiative Conference 

    Monday, April 18, 2016

    Explore the health benefits of walking, strategies to improve walkability, and what’s happening in our state to create walkable neighborhoods. Everyone has an important role to play. The Healthiest State Initiative asks you to come learn what you can do to help make walking easier for everyone!​​​
     
  • Iowa Municipal Professionals Academy Registration Now Open 

    Tuesday, April 12, 2016

    The Iowa Municipal Professionals Academy registration is now open for the July 27-29 session at the Gateway Hotel and Conference Center in Ames. This two-day, advanced training​ is designed for city clerks, deputy clerks, finance officers and their staff. The brochure includes topic descriptions and schedules. For the brochure and link to the registration, learn more online.
     
  • Cities are Eligible for Art Project Grants 

    Monday, April 11, 2016

    ​Cities may apply for an Art Project Grant, which are available through the Iowa Arts Council and the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. The Art Project Grant Program helps fund the creation and presentation of an original work of art, arts experience or arts learning opportunity and must demonstrate public value to Iowans through deliberate public engagement and access to project activities.

    Grants awards of $1,000 to $10,000 will be made, and grant applications are due May 2.

     
  • Community Policing Development Grants Available 

    Friday, April 08, 2016

    ​Cities are eligible for Community Policing Development grants, which are designated for advancing the practice of community policing and supports the systematic use of partnerships and problem-solving techniques to proactively address the immediate conditions that give rise to public safety issues such as crime, social disorder, and fear of crime.

    The program helps law enforcement agencies through training and technical assistance, the development of innovative community policing strategies, applied research, guidebooks and best practices that are national in scope. The program is administered by the Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) office as part of the U.S. Department of Justice's efforts to advance community policing in America.

    The 2016 grants will fund projects related to the following topic areas:

    • Microgrants Initiative for Law Enforcement
    • Critical Response Technical Assistance
    • Community Policing Emerging Issues Forums
    • Law Enforcement Led 21st Century Policing Demonstration Projects
    • 21st Century Policing and Implementation Projects

    The program is open to all public governmental agencies, profit and non-profit institutions, institutions of higher education, community groups and faith-based organizations. Applications are due June 1 and must be submitted using the COPS Online Application System. More information and application package materials are available on the COPS Web site.