Research and Budget

Use the resources below to learn more about how the City of Des Moines budgeting process works and how each of the City's funds are allocated.

Ask a question/Submit feedback

Download: Current DRAFT of ARPA Expenditure Plan (Updated 7/12/22)

City Council Dates

Budget Information

Annual Budget Timeline

Starting in late July, the Finance Department updates its projections based on each department’s expenditure history, individual project costs, inflation factors, revenues and salaries.

Through January, the Finance Department works with each department and the City Manager’s Office to compile an operating budget and the capital improvement program budget.

In February, City Council holds a single work session devoted to discussing a variety of budget topics for the upcoming fiscal year.

In February and March, City Council holds public hearings to set a cap on property tax revenue, discuss the proposed budgets and adopt the final budgets.

The State of Iowa requires a one-year budget be adopted and submitted by March 31 of each year.

Property Tax Levy

Your annual property tax bill is made up of many tax rates, divided up between the Des Moines Public School District, City of Des Moines, Polk County, Broadlawns Medical Center and a category called Other – which includes DART,   DMACC and the State of Iowa.

Now thanks to the Local Option Sales Tax that went into effect in July of 2019, the City of Des Moines – as promised – reduced its tax rate three straight years.

Fiscal Year City of Des Moines property tax levy rate
per $1,000 of taxable value
FY2018 $17.04
FY2019 $17.24
(with Local Option)
(with Local Option)
(with Local Option)

While that’s good news, it’s not the entire story. The City of Des Moines makes up roughly just one-third of this equation (35% of your total bill), so your combined tax rate from year to year might not reflect the tax decrease you got from the City.

If you see an increase on your bill despite the City of Des Moines reduction, it could be another entity on your bill increased their rate, or there was an increase in the annual state percentage that determines the taxable value of your house, or your Polk County property tax assessment went up. These are all factors that all go into your property tax statement, which the City of Des Moines does not control.

Again, Des Moines accounts for only one-third of it. And over the past few years, our portion of your bill has gone down.

Local Option

In March 2019, voters overwhelmingly approved a one-cent Local Option Sales & Services Tax to be used for property tax relief, infrastructure upgrades, public safety enhancements and neighborhood improvements. 

The first year of numbers are in and Local Option revenue exceeded expectations in Fiscal Year 2021, despite the challenges brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.

A strong first 8 months of revenue helped the Local Option Sales Tax bring in over $38 million and minimize the impact of COVID-19 on FY2020 results.

As required by state law, half of the funds raised by the Local Option were used to provide property tax relief in the form of a $0.60 levy rate reduction. 

The rest of the funds raised went to important street improvements and flood prevention projects across the city, neighborhood improvements like Blitz on Blight, special investment districts and a property improvement program. 

Local Option funds were also used to improve public safety through hiring of additional firefighters as well as funding a mental health and mobile crisis program through the Des Moines Police Department.

The financial reserve portion of the Local Option revenue is designed to guarantee that the City can continue to deliver on the priorities identified by Local Option voters. Reserves from this year will help protect the City’s continued investment in the priorities that Des Moines residents have asked for.

About the Research and Budget Office

The Research and Budget Office:

  • Prepares the City's Operating Budget and Capital Improvements Program Budget
  • Performs fiscal analyses of City operations, 
  • And provides research and analysis support on issues that impact the City.

Contact Information

  • Hours: Monday through Friday - 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM
  • Phone: (515) 283-4540
  • FAX: (515) 237-1668
  • Email:
Staff Title Areas of Support Email Phone
Joe Brandstatter Deputy Finance Director (515)-283-1440
Jessica Butler Senior Budget Analyst CIP Oversight, Facilities, Parks and Recreation, Publications (515)-283-4170
Jay Carlson Budget Analyst II Development Services, Engineering, Finance, Human Resources (515)-283-4512
Ian Korpel Management Analyst City Manager, Fire Department, Information Technology, Mayor & Council, Library (515)-283-4087
Michael Goers Budget Analyst Legal, Neighborhood Services, Public Works (515)-283-4068
Kayla Morrison Budget Analyst City Clerk, Human Rights, Police (515)-283-4088