Both city and county support of public libraries is mandated by Iowa Code section 256.69, which says, “…Each city within its corporate boundaries and each county within the unincorporated area of the county shall levy a tax of at least six and three-fourths cents per thousand dollars of assessed value on the taxable property…for the purpose of providing financial support to the public library which provides library services within the respective jurisdictions.”
In other words, a tax of at least $.0675 per $1,000 assessed property valuation must be levied by each county and city to provide financial support to the public library which provides them with library service. The tax of at least $0.0675 per $1,000 of assessed property required by the Code is an outdated and inadequate minimum. No public library in Iowa could keep its doors open if it were funded at this level. Most cities fund their libraries far above the minimum required by the Code.
Public libraries receive their primary funding from the city’s General Fund which is raised by levying property taxes. In Iowa, there is a cap on the amount a city may levy for the General Fund of $8.10 per $1,000 of assessed property valuation. Approximately 80% of Iowa cities are at this limit and therefore, additional revenue comes only from increased valuation of property or from special levies such as the special library levy described in the next section.
Your library may also receive funding from nearby cities that don’t have their own library. To meet the requirements of Iowa Code section 256.69, these cities contract with a library to obtain library services for their residents.
Public libraries are also funded from the county’s rural services fund which includes road clearing, weed eradication and sanitary disposal. The maximum levy for rural services is $3.95 per $1,000 of assessed value in the unincorporated areas.