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Biswa Das, Erin Mullenix, Julie Aberg Robison & Eric Christianson

Author: Heather Sauer | Image: Heather Sauer

“Impacts of the Great Recession of 2007–2009 on City Finances in Iowa: Lessons for the COVID-19 Slowdown?” has been published by the ISU Extension and Outreach Local Government Knowledge Team’s Public Finance Team. Members include Biswa Das, associate professor of community and regional planning and extension community development specialist; Erin Mullenix, ISU Extension and Outreach Community and Economic Development (CED) data analyst and research director for the Iowa League of Cities; Julie Aberg Robison, program manager with CED and the Institute for Design Research and Outreach; and Eric Christianson, CED field specialist.

Using actual municipal revenue data for all 942 cities in Iowa, from 2007-2015, the team examined the trends in each of the revenue sources as well as the aggregate revenue before, during and after the recession (the scale of recovery). The cities were broken down into seven categories based on the size of their total annual revenues, because not all cities of similar population size have similar budgets (revenue and expenditures). The motivation for this study was to use financial data of cities during and after the last economic recession to observe its impacts on each revenue source as well as compare cities of different sizes (urban versus rural) to assess if they were affected differently.

The authors hope this study may offer some lessons to anticipate how the ongoing economic slowdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic may impact the revenue stream for cities in Iowa.