Des Moines, IA—State Treasurer Michael L. Fitzgerald reports that outstanding debt obligations for state and local governments in Iowa totaled $15.4 billion as of June 30, 2016. Overall, this represents an increase of 0.92% over last year, down from an all-time high of 26.3% at the turn of the century. All political subdivisions, instrumentalities and agencies of the state are required to disclose outstanding long-term obligations, including bonds, notes, capital leases and loans, annually to the state treasurer. “Over the last seven years, we’ve seen only modest increases in debt,” Fitzgerald explained. “This year, school districts, which typically have larger annual increases, showed an increase of only 0.8%. This is down from an increase of 3.8% in fiscal year 2015.”
Education-related debt continues to comprise about 40% of the total debt (public schools 24%, Board of Regents 12% and community colleges 4%). Community colleges showed a large percentage debt increase this year at just over 9%, while the Board of Regents only modestly increased its debt load by 1.25%.
Iowa cities still account for the largest portion of outstanding debt at 36%, increasing their obligations by $117 million over the past year. Counties decreased their debt by just over $158,000, or 0.02%, from fiscal year 2015.
The State of Iowa decreased its total debt to $850 million, a 4.5% difference from 2015, while state authorities also saw a decrease in total debt, down 2.4%. Together, outstanding debt for these entities decreased $87.6 million.
The largest amounts of outstanding debt were issued to finance public buildings and schools (38% of total debt, or $5.9 billion) and pay for public utilities (21% of total debt, or $3.2 billion).
“Iowa continues the trend of moderate increases in outstanding debt obligations. We make this information available to all Iowans by county so they can see the total debt and changes over the years in their own communities,” Fitzgerald stated. Visit the state treasurer’s office at IowaTreasurer.gov and click ‘Outstanding Obligation Report’ under the ‘For Governments’ tab to view the report and additional information by a specific reporting entity.
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