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Friday's Axios Des Moines stories

Polk County, Iowa's 5 most expensive homes

Photo courtesy of the Polk County Assessor

Axios Des Moines combed through the Polk County Assessor's website to find the area's five most expensive homes — at least in terms of their officially assessed value.

Foot traffic drops in Des Moines malls

Expand chart

Foot traffic significantly dropped for malls in the Des Moines metro in 2020 compared to the year prior, according to cell phone data analyzed by geospatial analytics company Orbital Insight.

Why it matters: Troubled chain retailers and big-box stores were already filing for bankruptcy prior to 2020, resulting in huge mall vacancies. (Just look at Younkers.)

Sen. Chuck Grassley wants a "more targeted" COVID relief package

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) wants the upcoming COVID stimulus package to be "more targeted," he said at an Axios event on Thursday.

Why it matters: Some Republicans have pushed back on President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID relief price tag, as Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) plans to use the reconciliation process — a simple 51-vote majority, rather than 60 votes — to pass the legislation.

Feb 18, 2021 - Axios Des Moines

Coyotes may be hanging out in Des Moines

Photo: Carlos Avila Gonzalez/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Waterbury neighbors with outside pets were recently warned by a DSM resident using Nextdoor that coyotes have been howling and are hunting in her backyard.

The state of play: There is indeed a likelihood that the wild dogs are in your neighborhood, Polk County Conservation director Rich Leopold told Jason.

A bad year for Des Moines' bus system

Reproduced from Des Moines Area Transit Authority; Chart: Axios Visuals

The total number of rides were increasing on Des Moines' public transit system. Then the pandemic hit.

What happened: Social distancing and remote work/schooling led to overall monthly ride decreases between 50-60% as compared to the previous year.

Polk County to launch new rental assistance program

Illustration: Lazaro Gamio/Axios

A major new rent assistance program will launch next week for Polk County residents who are struggling, Eric Kool, director of Polk's Community, Family and Youth Services told Axios.

The state of play: The Emergency Rental Assistance Program will be paid by a $14 million federal allocation to DSM and Polk County for pandemic relief. It's part of a larger $195 million relief package for Iowa.

Des Moines is set to see massive swings in property values

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Hotels, bars and restaurants will lose 30% of their value in upcoming reassessments, Polk County assessor Randy Ripperger said in a meeting Wednesday with the Taxpayers Association of Central Iowa.

By the numbers: The value of homes, multi-residential properties and warehouses will go way up as compared to 2019 — 8%, 22% and 35%, respectively— according to the preliminary assessments.