Cities in Iowa
Iowa allows municipal charter cities and counties. There are 99 total counties in Iowa. All 99 of those counties are General law. Counties have the authority to establish charters, however, none have done that yet.
Types of local government
Local government in Iowa consists of 99 counties and 947 cities. In addition, there are 527 special districts and 166 independent school districts.
Cities in Iowa are classified in one of two ways:
- Home rule charter city: of which there are 5 (Clinton, Fort Dodge, Marion, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids)
- General law city: of which there are 942
- Counties are also authorized to adopt a home rule charter, but currently none have done so.
Initiative process availability
- Charter cities
In Iowa, initiative is only available in charter cities. State statues mandate an initiative process for citizens to propose charter amendments through petition. Charter cities also have authority to permit an initiative process for ordinances.
The Iowa Supreme Court, in City of Clinton v. Sheridan, 530 N.W.2d 690 (Iowa 1995), held that general law cities are prohibited from adopting local initiative and referendum measures. The rationale is that state statutes grant municipal legislation power to city councils (Iowa Code § 364), and a city provision allowing electorate-initiated ordinances would improperly contradict these statutes. Authority could be granted through future state legislation. The court confirmed that charter cities can grant initiative and referendum power within the charter for local ordinances/measures. A recent Iowa Supreme Court case discusses the legislative versus administrative limits of this process (Berent v. City of Iowa City, 738 N.W.2d 193 (Iowa, 2007)).
10 most populated cities
|List of Most Populated Cities in Iowa|
|City||Population||City Type||Next election|
|Des Moines||206,599||General law||No I&R|
|Cedar Rapids||127,905||Charter||Special Election|
|Davenport||100,802||General law||No I&R|
|Sioux City||82,967||General law||No I&R|
|Iowa City||68,947||Charter||Special Election|
|Waterloo||68,653||General law||No I&R|
|Council Bluffs||62,466||General law||No I&R|
|Ames||59,042||General law||No I&R|
|Dubuque||58,234||General law||No I&R|
|West Des Moines||57,909||General law||No I&R|
Full list of cities
- See also: List of Iowa cities
|A guide to local ballot initiatives|
- Local Government Types and Numbers Research Spreadsheet
- The U.S. Census Bureau's 2012 study of local governments
- Ballotpedia: Types and #'s of local government by state
- Legislative Guide to Iowa Local Initiative and Referendum
- US Census Bureau "City and Town Totals: Vintage 2011 (Population figures as of 2011 Census estimates)