In The News

  • Cities in the News 

    Tuesday, October 15, 2019

    ​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     

    ​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.​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​

  • Register Now for the 2019 Budget Workshops 

    Tuesday, October 15, 2019

    ​​Registration is open for the 2019 Budget Workshops! The annual workshops series features information on the latest fiscal trends important to cities along with guidance on completing the city budget. Workshops will be held at six locations around the state in November and December (see list below). The training is primarily designed for city administrators, city clerks and finance officers, but all city officials are welcome to attend.

    Dates and Locations
    November 12 | Fort Dodge​​
    Triton Room
    One Triton Circle, Fort Dodge, IA 50501

    November 14 | Spencer
    Clay County Regional Events Center
    800 W 18th St, Spencer, IA 51301

    November 19 | Harlan
    The Therkildsen Center
    706 Victoria St, Harlan, IA 51537

    November 21 | Iowa City
    Hilton Garden Inn
    328 S Clinton St, Iowa City, IA 52240

    December 3 | Cedar Falls
    Holiday Inn & Convention Center
    7400 Hudson Rd, Cedar Falls, IA 50613

    December 5 | Johnston
    Stoney Creek Hotel & Conference Center
    5291 Stoney Creek Ct, Johnston, IA 50131

    Each workshop costs $50, which includes lunch. Check the 2019 Budget Workshops page for additional information and online registration.
  • Great Plains and University of Missouri to Gather ADA Data soon via ClerkNet 

    Tuesday, October 15, 2019

    Great Plains ADA and the University of Missouri will soon be asking cities in Iowa to take a voluntary survey on ADA compliance/knowledge/services.  Clerks, look for the survey to be announced next week via ClerkNet.​
  • Water planning to support manufacturing into the future 

    Tuesday, October 15, 2019

    Today fresh water in Iowa is relatively cheap and readily available. But, our water supply is not endless! What will you do if there is not enough water for your business and all your neighbors?​CIRAS is ready to work on strategies with communities, business and industry.

    • Are you prepared to mitigate water-related risks?
    • Do you need a method to help identify water-related opportunities and then put an action plan into place?
    • Do you want to reduce costs, generate new revenue, improve overall operations, enhance brand reputation and improve safety?

    If so, then CIRAS can help your organization!  No matter what you make or manage – metal parts, plastic parts, food, machinery, or Iowa utilities, watersheds or water treatment facilities – water plays an important and critical part in our future. 

    To help you take your first steps in managing water, CIRAS will be hosting Business Strategies: Water Planning To Support Manufacturing Into The Future on November 5th, 2019 in Ames, IA.  Experts will demonstrate how informed water strategy and teaming with key stakeholders will create a significant impact in your community and business.​

  • Federal motor carrier safety administration commercial driver license testing 

    Tuesday, October 15, 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​​​

  • Iowa Foundation for Parks and Recreations Provides Grant Opportunity 

    Monday, October 14, 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.

  • Annual Financial Report System Open 

    Monday, October 14, 2019

    ​The Iowa Department of Management and Auditor of State's Office have posted the Annual Financial Report (AFR), which all cities must file electronically by December 1 of each year along with mailing a signed paper copy of the certification (publication) page (and proof of publication, if applicable). The report provides a detailed account of the previous year's financial activity and serves as the basis for current and future city budgets.

    The Fiscal Year 2018-2019 AFR will utilize a new reporting and filing system. Below are key notes about this system:

    • The AFR report system uses the State of Iowa A&A login system. This is the same login system that is used for the Street Finance Report, with usernames ending in @iowaid.  
    • The AFR system is built on technology that works best with up-to-date browsers. Users will be required to use Microsoft Edge, Internet Explorer version 10 or newer, Google Chrome, or Mozilla Firefox to complete the report.
      Even if your city completed the publication of the AFR using the Excel spreadsheet version, you must enter your AFR data into this system as well.  The data in this system will roll into the FY2021 budgets due on March 31st.
    • Section 384.22 of the Code of Iowa requires the AFR for the year ending June 30, 2019 to be filed with the Office of Auditor of State by December 1, 2019. Please note, Section 384.16 of the state code requires certain information included in the AFR be used in preparing the Fiscal Year 2021 annual certified budget. Property taxes will not be levied for Fiscal Year 2021 if a city fails to comply with statutory budgeting requirements and all state funds will be withheld (Section 384.16(7)) until the city complies with these statutory requirements. This deadline cannot be moved.
    • Users are encouraged to save their work often. While you do not need to save before moving from page to page within the report, the report does have a 1 hour time out and will not autosave before booting you after an hour. There is an option to renew your session at the 55 minute mark.
    • You will be required to enter your publication date before being allowed to generate the Proof of Publication page. Be sure that you have this date set correctly, as producing the Proof of Publication page submits the report. If you need to change your publication date, you will need to contact me to unlock the report.

    Additional information and instructions are available on the AFR webpage.​

  • Municipal Leadership Academy Starts in November 

    Tuesday, October 08, 2019

    ​Registration has opened for the 2019-2020 Municipal Leadership Academy! MLA is one of the best ways to get training on the basics of municipal government, offering 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 will be held in November and December, featuring seven workshops around the state. Held right after the city elections, these sessions are designed to provide education on the fundamentals of municipal government: Budget and Finance, Effective City Councils and Municipal Operations. Attendees of Part One also receive a copy of the Iowa Policy Leader's Handbook, which is a valuable resource that offers guidance on all sorts of city government topics (the handbook alone has a $40 value). Registration for MLA Part One is $80.

    MLA Part Two features online training videos that are 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.

    Note: A discounted package price of $190 (a $30 savings) is available for those that register for all three parts of MLA together.

    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 safety informational circuit 

    Tuesday, October 08, 2019

     New series: Iowa Safety Informational Circuit

    Join the Iowa Local Technical Assistance Program for this new roadway and worker safety series.  Hear useful information but also participate directly in this different kind of interactive and application-oriented event. Bring your safety-related issues to discuss at various one-on-one/small group stations throughout the day.  The event is FREE and provides an opportunity to:

    • Hear about programs to improve and fund safety
    • Discuss roadway situations and low cost safety improvements
    • Meet the newest GTSB Iowa Safety Team member
    • Learn and develop worker safety policies and plan content
    • Visit the safety resource table for information
    • Participate and network in one-on-one or small group safety stations
    Attendees can expect to leave these events with information to apply to improve roadway and worker safety at their agency. The Safety Informational Circuit will be held in October in the following locations:

    • Ames: Institute for Transportation - October 22, 2019 (Register)
    • Marion (Cedar Rapids) - Linn-Squaw Creek Park – October 23, 2019 (Register)
    • Storm Lake – Buena Vista County Extension Office – October 31, 2019 (Register)
    ​For more information on these events, including agenda and further details, visit:
  • Cities Invited to Participate in Lead For America Fellowship Program 

    Monday, October 07, 2019

    ​Cities are invited to take part in a fellowship program at Lead for America (LFA) that can place a young leader in the community to help local initiatives. LFA is a nonprofit organization that aims to ensure our nation’s most dynamic and diverse talent is working on our communities' toughest challenges.

    LFA recruits, trains and places our nation’s most dynamic and diverse young leaders in two-year fellowships in their hometowns and states to strengthen America’s public institutions, support our local communities, and cultivate the next generation of transformational community and public service leaders. Fellows are hosted by community-based organizations such as local and tribal governments and civically-oriented non-profits and businesses. If you are interested in learning more about potentially becoming one of LFA’s 2020 pre-confirmed hosts, please reach out to Erica Ng, Director of Community Partnerships at ​​​

  • Iowa Economic Development grant program for vacant state buildings 

    Tuesday, October 01, 2019

    The Iowa Economic Development Authority​ (IEDA) announced two new competitive funds to support the mitigation of dilapidated, state-owned properties that can be redeveloped for economic development purposes. Specifically, funding of up to $6 million has been allocated to the following two funds for current fiscal year (FY) 2020 through FY 2022:

    • Vacant State Building Demolition Fund – Provides up to $1 million in grants per fiscal year for a total of $3 million.
    • Vacant State Building Rehabilitation Fund – Provides up to $1 million in loans per fiscal year for a total of $3 million. Loans may be forgivable if there is demonstration of accountability, timely results and the majority of project funding comes from other sources.
    ​​Applications for FY 2020 are currently being accepted via and are due by November 27. Applications will be scored by IEDA and based on criteria including evidence of project readiness and the redevelopment plan. Successful applicants will be informed in December.
  • Environmental Protection Agency hosting webinars 

    Tuesday, October 01, 2019

    The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is presenting a series of technical assistance webinars to highlight best practices for addressing noncompliance at small wastewater treatment plants. This training, which is for owners and operators of small plants, was originally presented in 2016 by Ohio’s Package Plant Initiative. That initiative focused on small mechanical treatment systems that were in significant noncompliance (SNC) with their NPDES permits. Webinar attendees will learn how to fine-tune their systems and troubleshoot common non-compliance issue using cheap, easy, and effective process control tools and methods to return the wastewater treatment plants to compliance.

    This is the first of two webinars on this topic. This webinar will cover conversion problems (i.e., ammonia noncompliance). The second webinar, scheduled for November 13, will cover separation and disinfection issues.

    Webinar Time: October 17, 2019 1:00 - 2:30 Eastern

    Registration Link:

    Audience: Wastewater Treatment Plant Operators, NPDES technical assistance providers and compliance staff from states, tribes and US EPA. While all plant operators may find this useful, it is geared more toward smaller systems with flow of less than 1 million gallons per day.

    Presenter: John van Dommelen, Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Compliance Assistance Unit.

  • Water tower voting has started 

    Tuesday, October 01, 2019

    It's for the voters to decide if they like “what’s in the water”! The community's video with the most votes on October 11 at 5:00 p.m. will have their water tower transformed to be as inspiring as their town by artist Laura Palmer​. The water tower contest is hosted by Iowa Finance Authority and Iowa Department of Natural Resources. ​​​
  • Annual Conference & Exhibit event survey 

    Tuesday, October 01, 2019

    Take our event survey​ for the 2019 Annual Conference & Exhibit. We would love to hear your feedback! See you next year in Coralville. ​
  • IPERS Posts FY 2019 Investment Performance 

    Monday, September 23, 2019

    ​The Iowa Public Employees’ Retirement System (IPERS) recently announced its Fiscal Year 2019 investment performance, which showed a return of 8.35 percent. The FY 2019 return exceeded the actuarial return assumption of 7 percent and the IPERS trust fund balance stood at $33.96 billion at the close of the fiscal year. IPERS is the largest public pension system in Iowa with approximately 360,000 members. Over 115,000 retirees and their beneficiaries receive IPERS retirement benefits. Additional information can be found on the IPERS Web site.​​​