Budgeting Resources for Iowa Cities: Navigating House File 718

Webinar, November workshops are designed to guide city officials

October 27, 2023, 2:52 pm | Esther Crompton, Erin Mullenix

AMES, Iowa -- Earlier this year, significant changes to Iowa’s property tax system were enacted with the signing of House File 718 into law. Now, as cities begin planning their Fiscal Year 2025 budgets, they are grappling with the law’s sweeping changes to city finances.

Impact on property taxes and city budgeting

budget meeting by Wasan/stock.adobe.com.“Property taxes are fundamental in supporting the myriad of essential services that city governments provide daily, from public safety and quality infrastructure to recreational spaces and libraries,” explained Erin Mullenix, research director at the Iowa League of Cities and data analyst with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach’s Community and Economic Development program.

House File 718 introduced major overhauls to the property tax system. One of the law's 14 divisions consolidates a number of property tax levies into one new general fund levy, the Adjusted City General Fund Levy. Depending upon tax base growth in the communities, this change restricts city and county revenue growth.

“Cities must understand these changes while planning their budgets,” Mullenix emphasized.

Guidance and resources for city officials

Recognizing cities' challenges, the League has proactively developed webinars to help city officials navigate the new property tax landscape.

The League’s latest webinar takes a deep dive into Division II of the bill and guides city officials through consolidating levies into a single adjusted city general fund levy. It provides examples to discuss the potential impacts of levy limitations based on property tax valuation growth,” Mullenix said.

“Through my work with ISU Extension and Outreach and the League, I have heard from many communities that are looking for more resources to learn about this change. We hope to be able to assist cities and share what we know as they head into budget season,” said Mullenix.

In addition to resources like webinars, the Iowa League of Cities is hosting a series of Budget Workshops throughout November. These workshops are designed to guide city officials directly, with sessions tailored for beginners and advanced participants.

Ted Nellesen, city budget director from the Iowa Department of Management, will be a key speaker, offering insights into the changes to the city budget adoption and filing process as approved by House File 718.

“These workshops are a crucial platform for city officials to gain experience and understand the impacts of the new law,” Mullenix added.

As Iowa cities navigate the complexities of House File 718, the support and resources provided by experts like Nellesen and Mullenix and events like the Iowa League of Cities Budget Workshops are invaluable. These initiatives ensure that city officials are well-equipped to reevaluate their budgets and financial planning strategies, ensuring the continued provision of essential public services in the face of changing property tax regulations.

For additional resources on House File 718, visit the Iowa League of Cities website.

Photo credit: Wasan/stock.adobe.com

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