Iowa governor signs GOP property tax ‘transparency’ bill

DES MOINES — Republican Governor Kim Reynolds has signed a bill into law that makes changes in how cities and counties set budgets and raise property taxes. The bill was a priority for Republican House Speaker Linda Upmeyer of Clear Lake.

“Just making sure that the community has a good voice and they aren’t surprised when their taxes go up,” Upmeyer said during a recent interview with Radio Iowa.

A two-thirds majority on a city council and county board of supervisors will have to approve any increase in property tax revenue of more than two percent. Another public hearing must be held if local government officials plan to increase property taxes.

“So if, in fact, you’re raising taxes and you’re going to spend more money, if I’m a county supervisor, I should just let the public know: ‘We need more money for X, Y and Z and this is where we’re going to spend it,’” Upmeyer told Radio Iowa.

Republican lawmakers said during debate of the bill that it may make local leaders think twice about raising property taxes. Critics like Council Bluffs Mayor Matt Walsh, a Republican, say the “heavy hand of state government” is placing unnecessary limits on growing cities.

“I’m elected by the people of my community to do a job and when somebody who doesn’t have that perspective starts to tell me how to do the job and I don’t know that they’ve got the expertise that I do, it bothers me greatly,” Walsh said last month during an appearance on Iowa Public Television.