In The News

  • Conservation Education Grant Opportunities 

    Friday, July 31, 2015

    ​Do you have an idea to advance environmental literacy, but lack funds? The Resource Enhancement and Protection Conservation Education Program (REAP CEP) annually awards $350,000 for conservation education in Iowa, and grant reviewers are seeking applications for innovative projects that need start-up funds. Plan now for the November 1 grant deadline. The average grant award is approximately $22,000, and mini-grants for $3,500 or less are also available.
    For more information about the application process and the types of programs funded, go to the REAP Conservation Education Web site.
  • IMFOA Certification Credits Offered at Annual Conference and Exhibit  

    Monday, July 27, 2015

    Members of the Iowa Municipal Finance Officers Association (IMFOA) can receive up to 10 flex credits during this year’s Annual Conference and Exhibit taking place September 23-25 in Cedar Rapids. Flex credits are used by IMFOA members to become an Iowa Certified Municipal Clerk or Iowa Certified Municipal Finance Officer. Attendees can earn three hours of flex credit for attending a Wednesday workshop, more than five hours of flex credit will be offered on Thursday and the conference will conclude on Friday with two hours of flex credit. Credit will be offered for each workshop attended.

    The conference features a City Clerk workshop track as well as a workshop designed especially for city clerk’s occurring on Friday morning titled “Effectively Managing Public Records Requests.”

    Learn more about the exciting and informative line up of workshops designed to meet the needs of municipal professionals. Register now.​

  • Electric and Gas Franchise Fees Special Report Updated 

    Monday, July 27, 2015

    The Electric and Gas Franchise Fees Special Report highlights policy considerations and options of establishing or increasing the amount of a franchise fee. The League’s Special Report also provides several documents that are essential to the process.

    This publication has been updated as a result of legislation approved earlier this year that clarifies that cities need to hold a public hearing prior to increasing a franchise fee.​

  • Annual Financial Report Now Available for Download 

    Friday, July 24, 2015

    ​The Annual Financial Report (AFR) is now available for download through the State Auditor's Office. Every city must complete and electronically file the AFR with the State Auditor by December 1 of each year. The AFR does not have to be formally approved by the city council, although it is recommended that the council review the document and discuss the financial condition of the city.

    The League will offer help on preparing the AFR through our 2015 Annual Financial Report Training Video, which will be available in September. The online video will cost $35 and those that purchase it will be able to access the video as many times as needed.

  • Tree Management Grant Available  

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015

    Iowa communities with a population of 5,000 or greater, have the opportunity to learn more about tree care, identification and inventory through a grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR).

    The two-year grant program currently provides training and assistance to Atlantic, Fairfield, Grinnell, Marion, Marshalltown, Mason City, Muscatine, Oskaloosa and Pleasant Hill, and is now accepting applications for 10 additional communities in 2016.

    Grant communities receive intensive training by a team from the DINR and members of the Iowa Arborists Association. Training covers tree identification, health, inventory, planting, corrective pruning and maintenance, benefits of urban trees, ordinances, and community outreach.

    Through this cooperative effort between the IDNR and the U.S. Forest Service, each selected community will have a complete street tree inventory, canopy cover analysis, and an urban tree management plan with goals and methods to increase its tree canopy. Grant applications and instructions are available online. The deadline to apply is September 1.​​

  • City Council Orientations to be Featured in Next League Webinar 

    Tuesday, July 21, 2015

    The next webinar in our 2015 Webinar Series will cover City Council Orientations and be available on August 18. Orientation programs are essential to getting new council members up to speed and informed of important city business. With 2015 being a city election year, numerous cities around the state will be welcoming new members to their council. This speaks to the need of establishing and completing a successful orientation program. Such programs are also beneficial to returning council members as they can provide a refresher on different aspects of the city. The webinar will cover some ideas on what to include in an orientation program, including:

    • Form of city government
    • Roles and responsibilities of elected officials and city employees/departments
    • City boards and commissions
    • Budget and financial condition
    • How council meetings are run

    Additional information and online registration is available on the 2015 Webinar Series page.

  • Economic Development Workshop Track Offered at League Annual Conference 

    Monday, July 20, 2015

    ​The 2015 Annual Conference & Exhibit (September 23-25 in Cedar Rapids) includes a track of workshops that will focus on economic development. The track will offer a variety of workshops that are designed to provide guidance and information on this important topic. Cities of all size will benefit from each of the workshops, which can be seen below:
    • Public-Private Partnerships: An Approach to Economic Development (Thursday, 8:30-9:30 a.m.)
    • TIF and Other Economic Development Tools (Thursday, 10:45-11:45 a.m.)
    • Connecting the Money: Federal to State to Development on Iowa Brownfield Property (Thursday, 10:45-11:45 a.m.)
    • Effective Uses of TIF (Thursday, 2:15-3:15 p.m.)
    The economic development track is part of the conference's overall workshop schedule, which includes more than 40 options that cover a wide range of municipal government issues. See the full conference schedule to learn about these workshops and register for the conference.
  • Operator Training/Roadeo 

    Monday, July 20, 2015

    The American Public Works Association (APWA) Iowa Chapter is once again hosting the Operator Training/Snow Roadeo. The 2015 event will be held September 29-October 1 at the West Des Moines Public Services site and is a combination of training and competition that will benefit operators of all types.

    There are three events to choose from: Backhoe Training Snow Plow Operator Training (SPOT) on September 29-30, and classroom training will take place the first day with some behind the wheel training and testing on the second day. All of this is wrapped up on the third day with the annual Iowa Snow Plow Roadeo. There will be competition for two person and single person teams and an all new Skid Steer Roadeo!

    Register or learn more online.

  • RISE Program Accepting Grant Applications 

    Friday, July 17, 2015

    ​Grant funding is available through the Revitalize Iowa's Sound Economy (RISE) program at the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT). RISE provides grant assistance for projects that promote economic development through the establishment, construction, improvement and maintenance of streets that improve or maintain highway access to development sites, economically depressed areas, trucking terminals, points of shipments and tourist attractions, among other things.

    All cities and counties in the state are eligible to apply for and receive funds under the RISE program. Joint applications from two or more counties or cities are encouraged when mutual action is required to support economic development. Joint applications shall designate a lead county or city to serve as a principal contact point for the department.

    Grant applications are due September 1 and must be filed with the IDOT. More information and application packets are available on the RISE Web site.

  • Applications Now Being Accepted for Local Foods Local Places Program 

    Friday, July 17, 2015

    ​Cities can apply for technical assistance through a new round of the Local Foods, Local Places program, which helps communities create walkable, healthy, economically vibrant neighborhoods through the development of local food systems. A team of experts will help community members develop action plans that use local foods to support healthy families and communities and to drive downtown and neighborhood revitalization. The assistance process features a community workshop that brings people together to develop shared goals and steps to achieve them.

    The program is supported by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Transportation and others. Additional information and online application form is available on the EPA Web site.
  • National Night Out Set for August 4 

    Monday, July 13, 2015

    ​Cities across Iowa and the nation will be celebrating National Night Out on August 4, an event designed to build community-police partnerships, promote crime prevention and strengthen neighborhood organizations. The event was created in 1984 by the National Association of Town Watch (NATW) and now involves more than 38 million people and 16,000 communities.

    National Night Out is held on the first Tuesday of August each year, and participating communities hold a wide variety of events to help bring people out. Block parties, potlucks, police and safety demonstrations, and youth games are popular activities. One of the most important aspects of the event is the chance for citizens to meet their community's police officers and create lasting relationships.

    More information about National Night Out, including how to register your community, is available on the NATW Web site.

  • Better Than Social Networking 

    Monday, July 13, 2015

    ​What’s better than social networking? Face-to-face networking! The League understands the value of social networks (check us out on Facebook and Twitter), but we also know online interactions can’t replace seeing your peers face-to-face. In fact, year-after-year the post-conference evaluations tell us that one of the most valuable aspects of the League’s Annual Conference & Exhibit is meeting other city officials.
    To help facilitate that interaction during the Annual Conference & Exhibit the League offers several opportunities to connect, including the Networking Golf Outing, the Welcome Reception and Exhibit Hall, the general sessions, and at the President’s Reception. We even have an Interactive Workshop Track in which attendees are encouraged to share their experience, as well as questions, about the workshop topic.
    We can’t wait to see you September 23-25 in Cedar Rapids for the 2015 Annual Conference & Exhibit, Celebrating Cities. In the meantime, check out our Throwback Thursday (#LeagueTBT) posts on social media for a taste of past conferences.
  • REAP Funding Available for City Parks and Open Spaces 

    Friday, July 10, 2015

    ​The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has funding available through its Resource and Enhancement Protection program (REAP). Cities can apply for grants with REAP's City Parks and Open Spaces program, which awards grants to parkland expansion and multi-purpose recreation developments. Funds are not available for single or multipurpose athletic fields, baseball or softball diamonds, tennis courts, golf courses and other organized sport facilities. Swimming pools and playground equipment are also ineligible.

    Grants are divided across three city population categories, ensuring funding is distributed to a variety of cities. These grants are 100 percent funded, so local matching funds are not required. Grant applications are due August 14. Applications and additional information is available on the REAP Web site.

  • Brownfield Workshop 

    Friday, July 10, 2015

    As a leader in your community, you know that it can be difficult to redevelop abandoned, underutilized or neglected properties, especially when environmental issues related to liability and costs for regulatory cleanup are present. 

    Does your community have a closed gas station, abandoned petroleum bulk plant, or a vacant building with questions about how to deal with asbestos that has hindered reuse interest in redevelopment? If so, you have a brownfield site in your community, and there are resources to help turn that site into something useful! Vibrant community spaces such as housing, parks, trails and job-creating businesses can be developed on previously used sites, including brownfields. Putting these sites back into use decreases blight, creates jobs, generates additional tax revenues, saves municipal costs, and spurs economic development in the surrounding area.

    The Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ Brownfields Program and the Technical Assistance to Brownfields Program (TAB) at Kansas State University invite you to a free workshop, with lunch included, to help Iowa communities learn about brownfield properties and how to fund environmental assessment and cleanup, as well as resources for reinvestment at those sites, through a number of different available resources.

    The workshop will be held from 9:30 a.m. - 4 p.m. on Tuesday, September 15 at the Drake Community Library, at 930 Park St. in Grinnell. While there is no cost to attend, pre-registration is required.

    Questions? Contact:
    Mel Pins, Iowa Department of Natural Resources at or (515) 725-8344  (515) 725-8344
    Margaret Renas, Delta Institute & KSU TAB Partner at or (312) 554-0900, x13 (312) 554-0900, x13

  • Upcoming NLC Trainings 

    Thursday, July 09, 2015

    ​The National League of Cities (NLC) is putting on two big events this fall:

    NLC University Annual Leadership Summit – September 16-19, Orlando, Florida
    Leadership scholars and experts will explore how to handle challenging community situations, and prepare local leaders to address real-world problems. The Annual Leadership Summit is as an interactive leadership retreat designed specifically for local government officials. It features presentations by noteworthy leadership scholars and provides many opportunities for engaged learning and networking with leaders from across the nation.

    This year’s summit will feature:

    • A keynote address from Mayor Buddy Dyer, who will speak about how the city of Orlando is becoming a hub for innovation, thereby leading to a surge in the younger demographic.
    • Special presentations by members of NLC’s new R.E.A.L. (Race, Equity, and Leadership) initiative.  
    • A leadership workshop on building trust and resilience, by Roy W. Reid, Executive Director of Communications for the University Of Central Florida College Of Business.
    • Two special receptions hosted in conjunction with the city of Orlando.
    The National League of Cities is heading to Nashville this November 4-7 for the annual Congress of Cities Conference. Nashville is topping this year’s lists of “Best Places to Travel,” “Best Places for Millennials to Live" and “Fastest Growing Cities.” NLC wants attendees to see for themselves how Nashville is capitalizing on its identity as a global music center and thriving, and how they can capitalize on what makes their own cities unique. Mobile workshops help attendees experience the city and take home collaborative, creative solutions to common city problems.