Large Iowa cities spending more on police, less on social services

Iowa’s seven largest cities are spending more on policing per capita and a greater portion of their municipal budgets on law enforcement compared to the 1990s, according to a new report by the Iowa Policy Project. Over the same time period, spending on social services per capita and as a share of the municipal budget has declined in six of those cities.

Colin Gordon and Peter Fisher authored “Policing, public safety and community priorities,” published on July 22 (also available in pdf format). They examined budgets for the 24 Iowa cities with populations of at least 20,000, because “it is in our larger urban settings in Iowa that the problems with policing — including a well-documented pattern of disproportionate minority contact — are most acute.”

Seven of the cities studied are “metropolitan”: Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, Davenport, Sioux City, Waterloo, Council Bluffs, and Dubuque. Seven are suburbs in large metro areas: West Des Moines, Ankeny, Urbandale, Bettendorf, Marion, Coralville, and Johnston. Three are college towns: Iowa City, Ames, and Cedar Falls. Seven are micropolitan cities: Mason City, Marshalltown, Clinton, Muscatine, Burlington, Fort Dodge, and Ottumwa.

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Des Moines hiring practices don't reflect community's diversity

Joe Henry is a community activist who served on the Des Moines Civil Service Commission from 2013 to 2020. -promoted by Laura Belin

The City of Des Moines’ hiring practices do not reflect the diversity of our community.

Nearly 90 percent of the city’s police department employees (472 total) are white. Only 57 officers are Black or Brown. In addition, the majority of police officers do not live in the city and have never lived here!

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Bill would allow more guns in Iowa's local government buildings, parks

Bridget Carberry Montgomery sounds the alarm about a bill Iowa Senate Republicans sent to the governor last week. Bleeding Heartland covered its provisions in detail after House Republicans approved the legislation in February. -promoted by Laura Belin

As a member of the Urbandale City Council, I have a responsibility to ensure the safety of residents, employees, and visitors to Urbandale. In that capacity, I implore Governor Kim Reynolds to veto House File 2502, because it interferes with our state’s long history of local control and makes our communities less safe.  

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COVID-19 crisis underscores how vital information is

Randy Evans is executive director of the Iowa Freedom of Information Council. -promoted by Laura Belin

We have all become acutely aware in the past few weeks why masks and face shields, respirators and ventilators are so important for hospital workers and their patients.

The supply is not keeping up with the need, and that could have dire consequences for the doctors, nurses, and patients.

Likewise, the novel coronavirus crisis has underscored the importance of another valuable commodity — access to accurate, authoritative information.

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How delaying property tax enforcement affects Iowa taxpayers, local government

Jon Muller is a semi-retired public policy analyst and sporadic blogger at jonathonmuller.com.-promoted by Laura Belin

Governor Kim Reynolds’ March 20 proclamation related to the COVID-19 pandemic suspended provisions of Iowa law imposing penalties and interest on late property tax payments.

Iowa’s 99 county governments collect property taxes and distribute the funds to themselves and other taxing authorities, such as school districts, cities, community colleges, or townships. The taxes paid by property owners are technically due on March 1 and September 1 of each year. Normally, penalties and interest begin to accrue on April 1 and October 1, respectively.

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