Cities in Iowa

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This page contains a list of cities in Iowa, and other information about local governments.

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.[1]

There are 947 total municipalities in Iowa. Of those 947, 942 of them are General law municipalities while the remaining 5 are Charter/Home rule cities.[1]

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.[2]

Further classifications:

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

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in Iowa
  • 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.[3]

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)).[4]

10 most populated cities

List of Most Populated Cities in Iowa
City[5] 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
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As of the 2010 Census, there were 947 incorporated cities and towns in Iowa. A full list of cities in Iowa is available here.

See also