Iowa City Government

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The City of Iowa City was founded in 1839 and incorporated on April 6, 1853. The home rule charter of the City was adopted by voters of the City on Nov. 15, 1973. The City is governed by a seven-member Council; each member serves a four-year term. Elections are held every two years allowing for continuation in office of at least three members at each biennial election. The Council members are elected at large, with three members nominated from specific districts, and the remaining four members nominated at large. Districts are used in the primaries only. The Council elects the Mayor from its own members for a two-year term.

The City Council is the legislative body and makes all policy determinations for the City through the enactment of ordinances and resolutions. It also adopts a budget to determine how the City will obtain and spend its funds. The Council appoints members of boards, commissions, and committees. They use a Strategic Plan that outlines the City's vision, values, and strategies and primary areas of focus of City policy, projects, programs, and initiatives over a six-year period. 

The City Manager, City Clerk, and City Attorney are all positions appointed by the City Council.


The City provides a full range of services including police and fire protection, construction and maintenance of roads, streets and infrastructure, inspection and licensing functions, a municipal airport, library, recreational activities, and cultural events. The City owns and operates its water supply and distribution system, and sewage collection and treatment system with secondary treatment also provided. Virtually the entire City has separate storm and sanitary sewer systems. The City operates a municipal off-street and on-street parking system in the Downtown District, as well as a transit system.


City organization chart