Sep 27, 2022 - Business

Polk County sees major growth in taxable value of property

A photo of Bondurant

Bondurant had the highest percentage of growth in taxable property value among Polk County cities in the last 20 years, up more than 900% to almost $364 million. Photo: Ben Fuller via the city of Bondurant

The taxable value of property among Polk County cities grew more than 160% in the past two decades, according to an analysis by Axios using Iowa Department of Management data.

  • It's now nearly $30 billion.

Why it matters: Taxable value reflects the economic health of a community.

  • The data can help metro planners assess what economic development incentives work.

By the numbers: Des Moines added the most taxable value by dollar amount — more than $4 billion, an 83% increase.

  • West Des Moines added $3.7 billion and Ankeny added $3.5 billion, increases of 172% and 371% respectively.
  • Statewide, cities more than doubled their taxable values to about $117.4 billion.

What's happening: New developments and soaring sales prices are behind the growth.

  • Next year, residential properties will assess at 22% higher than in 2021, Polk County assessor Randy Ripperger projected earlier this month.
  • Commercial property assessments will increase by an estimated 18%, he said.

Of note: The DSM area's population increased almost 19% between 2010 and last year, making it the fastest-growing metro by percentage in the Midwest, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

State of play: Economic development incentives play a role in the growth and there is debate among some groups about whether some are worth the investments.

  • Tax Increment Financing (TIF), for example, adds hundreds of millions of dollars in value annually across the state, according to an Iowa League of Cities report.

Yes, but: Groups like Common Good Iowa have for years cautioned that TIFs can be overused and drive up property tax rates.

Zoom in: Incentives are frequently adjusted to help meet development goals.

  • Des Moines narrowed tax abatement incentives last year for projects that don't meet enhanced efficiency standards.
  • Meanwhile, new residential tax abatements were phased out in Bondurant as the city focuses more on growing industrial and commercial businesses, city administrator Marketa Oliver told Axios.
Change in taxable property value per resident
Data: Iowa Department of Management; Note: Valuation includes gas and electric utilities; Residents counted using the 2000 and 2020 census; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios
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