The City of Spencer was incorporated as a town on March 26, 1880; and organized as a City of the Second Class on March 21, 1892. Spencer is the county seat of Clay County and is located in northwest Iowa. Spencer is located at the confluence of the Little Sioux and Ocheyedan rivers and is the regional hub for northwest Iowa. The population of the city was 11,092 as of the 2018 census and the land area covered is approximately 11.18 square miles. The city is empowered to levy a property tax on real property located within its boundaries. It is also empowered by state statute to extend its corporate limits by annexation, which occurs from time to time.
Spencer is organized under the Mayor-Council form of government with an appointed City Manager, in accordance with the State Code of Iowa. The Council retains most decision making authority such as policy setting, adopting ordinances and budget and staffing levels. The City Council has seven members, five of which are elected according to wards and the remaining two members are elected at-large. All members serve four year staggered terms. The Mayor is elected at-large and serves a two-year term. The Mayor does not have a vote, but may in certain circumstances veto decisions of the City Council.
The City provides the normal municipal services such as police and fire protection, street and infrastructure construction maintenance, parks and recreations, planning and zoning, library services as well as operates two cemeteries. Also provided are sanitary sewer and solid waste and recycling collection. The City owns and operates the regional landfill that serves a four county area. Electric, water and communication services are provided by Spencer Municipal Utilities, whose Board of Trustees is appointed by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council.