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.
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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