Frequently Asked Questions
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Doesn't the assessor raise my value according to the amount of taxes needed?
No, the Assessor raises or lowers the values of property according to the market value of real estate or in the case of agricultural land, according to productivity and CSR.
Assessments are set January 1st of each year, while the tax levies (tax rates) on these assessments are not set until July of the following year. (Example, the assessment notices from April 2021 were for the January 1, 2021 assessment. Tax levies for these values will be set in June of 2022 based on what the different taxing authorities budget in March and April 2022 for the next fiscal year of July 2022 - June 2023.)
The taxing authorities you pay property taxes to are listed at the bottom of your tax statement each year, along with their budget information and a breakdown of how much you are paying to each taxing body.
I disagree with my value. What can I do?
I would first recommend either looking at your property information on our Des Moines County Assessor website, or contacting our office, to see if we have everything listed correctly for your property. We will gladly provide a printout on your dwelling and/or buildings and explain how your value was determined. The Des Moines County Assessor's Beacon website is also a good place to find out how other comparable properties have sold.
If you still disagree with your value, there is an "Informal Agreement" period between April 2nd and April 25th. This process would involve a field appraiser coming out to look at your property to see if the value could possibly be adjusted so a formal protest with the Board of Review could be avoided. If an agreed upon value is reached, the Informal Agreement is signed by the aggrieved taxpayer and the value is changed for the current assessment year. This is merely an option; you may choose to go directly to the Board of Review with a timely filed, formal protest.
If no agreement can be made, or if you choose not to go this route, you may file a petition with the Des Moines County Board of Review. Petitions are available in the Assessor's Office or online at the county's web site or the Iowa Department of Revenue's web site. Petitions must be filed within the timeframe provided by the Code of Iowa. This is currently April 2nd to April 30th of any given year. The petitions are filed in the Assessor's Office.
The Board of Review will meet during the month of May. You may decide to have an oral hearing before the Board, or only decide to file your petition and submit any information you think is relevant to your petition. The Board will notify you by mail of their decision.
If you disagree with their decision, you may appeal within 20 days of the Board's adjournment, or May 31st, whichever is later. This date is usually May 31st. You may appeal to either the Property Assessment Appeal Board, or to Des Moines County District Court.
I own and farm 500 acres. Isn’t there something I need to sign up for now?
You are probably thinking of the Family Farm Tax Credit. This was required to be signed up every year by October 15th until 2001. If you signed up in 2001 or after, you do not have to sign again. However, if you have acquired more agricultural land after you last signed up, you will need to sign an application for the newly acquired land. Applications can be filed anytime. However, those filed after November 1st will be applied to the next year.
I served in the military. Am I eligible for the Military Service Property Tax Exemption?
There have been a number of changes by the Legislature in recent years that have expanded the eligibility for the Military Exemption on property taxes. Individuals that may not have been eligible in the past may qualify now. Visit our Credits and Exemptions page for more information and/or contact the Veterans Affairs Office.
I signed up for Homestead and/or Military credit last year. Why isn’t it on my taxes? Do I need to sign again?
It will depend on when you signed the application. Applications must be signed on or before July 1st of the assessment year that you are first claiming the credit. If it is signed after July 1st, the credit is applied to the next assessment year.
Please remember that property taxes due are 18 months behind the current assessment year. For example, the current property taxes payable in September 2021 and March 2022 are calculated on the 2020 assessment year and values. If you signed up after July 1, 2020, but on or before July 1, 2021, your credit will be applied to the 2021 assessments on which the taxes will be calculated for the September 2022 and March 2023 payments. If you signed up after July 1, 2021, your credit will be applied to the 2022 assessments, which will be used for the September 2023 and March 2024 property taxes.
Homestead and military credits were at one time applied for every year. In the mid-1980s, this was changed to a one-time sign-up. However, you do still have to sign up if you move to another house, even if it is next door or across the street.
What are tax levies and assessed values?
There are a number of different taxing districts in a jurisdiction, each with a different levy. Each year the County Auditor determines for that district a levy that will yield enough money to pay for schools, police and fire protection, road maintenance, and other services budgeted for in that area. The tax levy is applied to each $1,000 of a property's taxable value.
The value determined by the assessor is the assessed value and is the value indicated on the assessment roll. The taxable value is the value determined by the auditor after application of state ordered "rollback" percentages for the various classes of property, with other properties always compare with the value on the assessment roll of the assessor's property record cards and not the value indicated on the tax statement.
What is a "rollback"?
The "rollback" is the percentage of actual value that is determined by the Director of Revenue and Finance each year on the several classes of property where the total value increase statewide, exceeds three percent for each class of property. The percentage so determined by the Director of Revenue and Finance is certified to and applied by the local County Auditor to all property in each class affected throughout the State. Percentages determined by the Director of Revenue and Finance are the same for all the assessing jurisdictions in the State.
Increases in assessed value of individual parcels of property, as determined by the Assessor, may exceed four percent within a jurisdiction. Agricultural property, except agricultural dwellings, are assessed on the basis of productivity and net earning capacity using a five-year crop average and capitalized at a rate set by the Legislature. The rate is currently seven percent. Tentative and final equalization orders are issued by the Director of Revenue and Finance in odd-numbered years on or about August 15 and October 1, respectively. The orders are sent to the various County Auditors who apply them to the classes of property affected if any.
Why do values change?
State law requires that all real property be reassessed every two years. The current law requires the reassessment to occur in odd-numbered years. Changes in market value as indicated by research, sales ratio studies, and analysis of local conditions as well as economic trends both in and outside the construction industry are used in determining your assessment.
Can I pick up or request a ballot for someone else?
No. In Iowa you can only request an absentee ballot for yourself.
Can I request an absentee ballot by email or fax?
Yes. You may request an absentee ballot via email or fax and a ballot will be mailed to you. However, in order for your ballot to be counted you must also mail in or drop off the original paper ballot request.
Can I use power of attorney to request a ballot for my spouse, child or parent?
No. Under Iowa law, power of attorney does not apply for all election related matters.
Can someone else return my absentee ballot for me?
The only people who may return a ballot for a voter are:
- someone living in the voter’s household
- an immediate family member
- a special precinct election official delivering a ballot for health care residents
- a delivery agent, in the case of a voter unable to return a ballot due to blindness or other disability
Do I need to sign the return envelope of my absentee ballot?
Yes! Your absentee ballot cannot be counted unless you have signed the affidavit envelope that you return your ballot in. If we receive a ballot back that has not been signed we will attempt to contact you to get this fixed. Once contacted, you may decide to either:
- Request a replacement ballot and return it by 8:00 p.m. on election day
- Vote at the polls on election day
- Sign the affidavit in person at the county auditor’s office by 8:00 p.m. on election day
Do I need to sign the return envelope of my absentee ballot?
Yes! Your absentee ballot cannot be counted unless you have signed the affidavit envelope that you return your ballot in. If we receive a ballot back that has not been signed we will attempt to contact to you to get this fixed.
Do absentee ballots even get counted?
Yes. There is a myth that absentee ballots only get counted if the election is close, however, this is not true. Under Iowa law, every ballot must be counted.
What is the last day I can turn in my absentee ballot?
You are allowed to hand deliver your ballot to the Auditor’s office up until the time the polls close on Election Day. If you return your ballot through the mail, your ballot must arrive by 8:00 p.m. on Election Day, with exceptions for individuals in the Safe at Home program and military/overseas citizens. Learn more on our Absentee Voting page.
Can I get help marking my ballot?
Yes. If you need assistance filling out your ballot ask a poll worker for help. A team of one republican and one democrat will come over and help you mark your ballot. Also available in each polling location is a ballot marking device that will read you all of the choices and then print out your marked ballot.
Can I register to vote on Election Day?
Yes. Iowa law allows for Election Day registration if you are able to provide proof of identification (i.e. valid photo ID) and proof of residency (i.e. utility bill with your name on it if your ID has an outdated address on it). If you are unable to provide one or both of these you are allowed to bring someone with you to attest that you have the right to vote.
Can I take my absentee ballot to the polls on Election Day and vote there?
Yes. If you have not returned your absentee ballot you may go to your polling place on Election Day and vote a regular ballot.
Do I need to show ID to vote?
Beginning January 1, 2019, Iowa voters will be required to show a driver’s license, non-driver’s ID, passport, military ID, veterans ID, Tribal ID or Voter ID Card at the polls before they vote. Voters, starting in 2019, without an ID may cast a provisional ballot or have another registered voter attest to their identity.
I am already registered but my information needs updated; can I do that on Election Day?
Yes. While it is recommended that you update your information prior to Election Day to speed things up at the polls, you may wait and do so on Election Day. If you are updating your address just make sure you are going to the polling place for your new address. When updating your address you will now need to provide proof of identity and proof of residency.
I can't get out of my car; can someone bring me a ballot to vote from there?
Yes. If you are unable to go inside the polling place a team of election workers will be sent out to your car to help you vote.
I lost my absentee ballot; can I just go vote on Election Day?
Yes. When you go to vote, a poll worker will verify with the auditor’s office that your absentee ballot has not been returned. If it is confirmed that the auditor’s office has not received a ballot from you then you will be given a new ballot to vote there.
What do I need to bring with me to vote?
Starting in January of 2019 you will be required to show identification. If you need to register to vote on Election Day, you must bring proof of identification and proof of residency.
What if I lost my ID or forgot to take one with me to the polls?
Starting in 2019, if you do not have your ID with you, you may either cast a provisional ballot or have another registered voter attest to your identity. Learn more about provisional ballots and attesting on our Voter ID page.
What if I'm still waiting in line when the polls close?
So long as you are in line to vote at the time the polls close you will be allowed to vote.
What is a provisional ballot?
If a voter’s eligibility is in question on Election Day they are allowed to cast a provisional ballot. After the voter marks their ballot and returns it to the poll worker, the voter is required to provide the necessary identification or documentation at the polling place before it closes or provide it at the Auditor’s Office by noon on the following Monday. If the canvass will be held earlier than the following Monday, the identification must be provided before the canvass.
If it is determined that you do have the right to vote in the precinct in which you voted, your ballot will then be counted and included in the final vote total.
Can I get a new ballot if I make a mistake or lose my ballot?
Yes. If you make a mistake on an absentee ballot mark your return envelope “Spoiled” and return it to the Auditor’s office either by mail or in person. If you return it by mail contact the Auditor’s office to be sent a new one.
On Election Day if you make a mistake on your ballot, return it to the poll worker to receive a new one. You are allowed up to three ballots so don’t make too many mistakes!
Can I vote for someone that is not on the ballot?
Yes. For each race on the ballot, a line is provided for you to write-in the name of someone for whom you wish to vote for. Make sure you color in the oval!
Can an independent vote in a primary election?
Yes and No. In Iowa, you must be a member of a political party (currently: Republican, Democratic, and Libertarian) to vote in a primary election. However, anyone* can change parties on Election Day and vote. For independents to vote they must declare a political party.
*Precinct election officials may not change political parties within 30 days of an election.
Do I have to vote for everything on the ballot?
No. You can vote for as much or as little as you would like; it’s all up to you!
If I change my mind on who I want to vote for after I have returned my ballot, can I get a new one?
No. If you have already returned your absentee ballot to the Auditor’s office you may not request a new ballot if you have changed your mind on who you wish to vote for.
If I chose a party do I have to vote for all of their candidates?
It depends on the election. In primary elections, you can only vote for candidates from the party to which you belong. In general elections, you are free to vote for anyone you like, regardless of their party affiliation.
What if I don't have an ID?
Registered voters who do not have an Iowa driver’s license or non-operator’s ID were issued a voter ID card. Voter ID cards must be signed before going to the polls. The new voter ID card will contain a PIN number that will be used for voting purposes. If you should have a voter ID card and do not, please contact our office to have one sent to you.
What is Voter ID?
Starting in 2019, voters must provide an ID when going to vote. Voters who do not have ID will be allowed to either cast a provisional ballot or have another registered voter attest to their identification. Learn more about provisional ballots and attesting on our Voter ID page.
There are 6 approved types of identification that may be used:
- an Iowa Driver’s License or Non-Operator ID
- a Voter ID issued by the Secretary of State or the Auditor’s Office
- a current US Passport
- a US Military ID
- a US Veteran’s ID
- a Tribal ID
Where do I vote?
Where you vote is determined by where you live and you must vote in the precinct to which you are assigned for your ballot to be counted. To find your polling place please visit the Polling Places page on our website.
Can I update my voter registration over the phone?
No. All updates to voter registration must be made in writing or online through the Iowa DOT if you have an Iowa driver’s license.
Can a homeless person register to vote?
Yes. Any eligible voter in Iowa may register to vote. Because many of those who are homeless have a nontraditional address they just need to provide an address or description of where they sleep the most, wherever that may be.
Can someone with a previous felony conviction vote?
Those with a prior felony conviction are only permitted to vote if their voting rights have been restored by the Governor, including through Executive Order. For more information about restoration of rights, contact the Governor’s office or visit the voter registration page on our website.
Do I have to register to vote for every election?
No. You would only need to re-register if your information has changed and you need to update it.
How do I update my address?
If you have moved recently and need to update your address for voting, all you have to do is fill out a new voter registration form and submit it to the Auditor’s office. If you do not update your address after a move through a new voter registration form and do not vote in the next general election, you will be marked inactive (inactive voters may still vote with proper ID). Registration will be canceled if two more general elections pass with no voter activity.
I just registered and received a card in the mail but there is a mistake on it; what do I do now?
If you notice a mistake on your voter card please contact the Auditor’s Office and/or submit a new registration form to correct your information.
I registered as an independent; why does my card say "NP" or "No Party"?
Iowa does not recognize an “independent” party. Instead, “No Party” is used to indicate a lack of affiliation with a political party.
How do I renew my Big Hollow Shooting Range certification?
Go to our Target Shooting page, navigate to the Renew Your Membership section and follow the link to the Online Shooting Range Refresher Course. Once you've filled out the form, you'll be given a link to pay online or you can pay in person or by mail at our Main Office.
Can I reserve a campsite?
About half of the sites at Big Hollow are reservable via mycountyparks.com. All other campsites are walk-up only.
Can I reserve a shelter house?
Yes. We allow reservations at many of our shelter houses. You can fill out an online reservation application via mycountyparks.com.
Does my carry permit allow me to shoot at the Big Hollow range?
No. Anyone wishing to use the Big Hollow Shooting Range must take our shooting range certification course and pay the annual fee.
How can I donate to a park or project?
Many of our parks and projects are made possible by contributions from the community. For more information on how to donate, contact us or visit our Donate page.
How do I request permission to host a special event at a DMCC park or facility?
Fill out the Special Event Application form.
I found a baby animal, what do I do?
If you find an animal baby that appears to be on its own, don’t worry. Generally, one of its parents is nearby, watching.
They’re teaching their offspring to be independent, and in the case of danger, some animal parents will take off in order to create a distraction away from their young.
Many people “rescue” wildlife babies they believe to be abandoned. But when you take that “orphaned” rabbit out of the nest or that raccoon out of the tree, you’re taking that baby away from its parents, its natural setting and a chance to live in the wild. Many times, taking an animal out of the wild greatly reduces its chances of survival.
In most cases, these wildlife babies perish soon after capture. If an animal does survive the initial trauma of being captured and confined, it often succumbs more slowly to pneumonia, other diseases or malnutrition.
However, if you know for a fact that the baby’s parent has died, or if it’s clear the animal is injured, a wildlife rehabilitator can help. Rehabilitators receive extensive training, including an apprenticeship, to learn how to care for animals and reintroduce them to the wild. They know when to feed them, how to feed them, how to treat injuries and they have the space and equipment to house the animals.
Do not try to take the animal in yourself – not only could it present a safety risk to both you and the animal — it’s also illegal, as wild mammals are protected by state law and wild birds are protected by state and federal law.
If there is not a licensed wildlife rehabilitator near you, contact your local conservation officer or animal control officer. In Des Moines County, the Iowa DNR Conservation Officer can be reached at 319-759-0751.
What is being done about the water quality at Big Hollow Lake?
Learn more about water quality on Big Hollow Lake and what's being done to improve it on our Big Hollow Water Quality Project page.
How do I request a new address or address change?
A user can submit a form online requesting a new address or an address change.
What is E911?
E911 stand for Enhanced 9-1-1 which allows emergency services to locate an individual when the user contacts 911. This service is used for both land lines and mobile devices. Locating a mobile user in an emergency response offers a reference of where an individual is within 50 to 300 meters.
What is GIS?
GIS stands for Geographic Information System that integrates hardware, software, and spatial data to manage, edit, and analyze geographic information. More Information
How often is the GIS website updated?
The GIS website is updated on a weekly basis, usually at the end of the week. The Assessor Information website is updated on a daily basis.
What map sizes are available for printing?
The GIS department can print maps on paper that range from 8.5"x11" to 42"x60" in a variety of paper formats. For more information regarding pricing, visit our Data and Pricing page.
Feeling queasy? Call, it's easy!
Food poisoning happens after eating or drinking contaminated foods or beverages. Contamination occurs at any time throughout the food preparation process, including growing, distribution processes, storage, cooking, and service. Often, foodborne illness is the result of cross-contamination, poor hygiene, or improper heating and cooling of prepared foods.
If you suspect food poisoning after consuming an item from a restaurant, grocery store, convenience store, market, or public gathering, call IDPH’s IowaSic hotline at 1-844-469-2742.
How can I obtain my immunization record?
Vaccine records can be obtained by contacting our office at 319-753-8290.
Records would be limited to immunizations given in Iowa. Only the individual, who received the vaccine or parent/legal guardian can request immunization records. For any records, we require a release of information to be signed.
How do I call if I think I have questions about a poison?
- Use the webPOISONCONTROL® online tool to get specific recommendations based on age, substance, and amount, OR
- Call Poison Control at 1-800-222-1222 for expert guidance.
How do I contact the suicide prevention hotline?
People can call 988 to access counselors and response teams at the 24/7 National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.
How long should I isolate if I have COVID?
Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prention, (CDC) for isolation and mitigation strategies:
Isolation and Precautions for People with COVID-19 | CDC
I am going to be traveling out of the country, what vaccines do I need?
The Centers for Disease Control website is an excellent resource. Please visit the CDC website.
Travel Medicine Clinic at the University of Iowa
200 Hawkins Dr.
Iowa City, IA 52242
I just moved to Des Moines County — where can I find a medical provider?
Contact the following options:
- Community Health
1706 W. Agency Rd.
West Burlington, IA 52655
- Family Medicine, Mercy-Southeast Iowa Regional Medical Center
Mercy Plaza, Suite 159
1225 S. Gear Ave.
West Burlington, IA 52655
- Mediapolis Clinic
401 N. Orchard St.
Mediapolis, IA 52637
I'm ready to quit! Do you have tobacco cessation resources?
Call the Iowa Quit Line at 866-822-6879.
Mental Health: My friend/family member is in crisis. Where can I go for help?
Des Moines County offers a number of services. These can be accessed by contacting the Disability Services office at 319-754-8556 or accessed directly by contacting Counseling Associates IHH.
Your Life Iowa is another service option, funded by the Iowa Department of Public Health under the Division of Behavioral Health. Your Life Iowa is a free and confidential help. Providing information and services for problems with alcohol, drugs, gambling, mental health, or suicidal thoughts. Your Life Iowa can be accessed 24/7 by:
- phone at 855-581-8111
- text 855-895-8398
- online chat on the Your Life Iowa website
- following Your Life Iowa on Facebook
When/where can I get my blood pressure checked?
Our department offers blood pressure checks during our regular office hours:
Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
522 North 3rd St.
Burlington, IA 52601
Where can I find information about disability-related programs and services for Iowa residents?
Iowa COMPASS is Iowa's leading source of information on disability services and assistive technology. Iowa COMPASS is a great resource in connecting those with disability-related needs with information and resources to help problem-solve in order to meet their needs.
Where can I find more information about Opioid Overdose Prevention?
Where can I get a flu vaccine? Do I really need it? What is seasonal flu?
Influenza is a serious disease that can lead to hospitalization and sometimes even death. The single best way to protect against the flu is to get vaccinated each year.
Where do I go if I need a medical provider and do not have health insurance or I am underinsured?
1706 W. Agency Rd.
West Burlington, IA 52655
Who do I call regarding bats, poor food handling techniques, or well testing?
- Water testing is done through Des Moines County Public Health Environmental Health services: 319-753-8290
- To report a food-related illness complaint: 844-IowaSic (844-469-2742)
- To report a non-illness food handling complaint contact Lee County Health Department: Phone: 319-372-5225
What is needed when applying for a passport?
- Evidence of citizenship
- Two identical passport photos
- Personal identification
- Completed application
Visit our Passport page for more information.
Do minors applying for passports need to be present?
Each minor child that is applying for a passport shall appear in person.
How do I get my passport in a hurry?
Expedited Service allows you to rush your passport application. It requires the following:
- The cost, in addition to regular application fees, is $60 per application, payable to the U.S. Department of State plus overnight delivery costs.
- Two-way overnight delivery is strongly suggested.
- If you mail it in, clearly mark Expedited on the envelope.
Anyone may request expedited service for any type of application (ie. first-time applications, renewals, amendments of existing passports, etc.)
What is the new Passport Card and how does it differ from the Passport Book?
U.S. citizens may apply for a U.S. Passport Card. The passport card will facilitate entry and expedite document processing at U.S. land and sea ports of entry when arriving from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Bermuda. The card may not be used to travel by air. Learn more about the differences between the card and book on the U.S. Department of State website.
Sheriff & Jail
What are your hours?
The business/clerical office is open Monday - Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. (excluding holidays).
How may I contact the Deputy who handled my complaint?
To contact a Des Moines County Deputy, please call 319-753-8212.
How do I pick up recovered stolen property or evidence that can be returned?
To pick up property, it is necessaray to make an appointment with the Evidence Support Staff by calling 319-753-8212.
How do I get a copy of an incident or accident report?
Please contact the Records Division at 319-753-8212.
How can I get a phone number blocked so I don’t receive calls from the jail?
You can call the jail at 319-753-8275 or call Prodigy direct at 1-866-797-5578.
How do I send an inmate mail?
You may send to 3630 Bauer Drive, Burlington, IA 52601 with inmates name.
How do I send an inmate money for commissary items?
You can go online at jailatm.com.
How do I send inmate money for phone/video?
You can go online at prodigysales.com.