Timothy Joseph Burget has been a life-long resident of Altoona. He was born on August 7, 1951. His family has been a part of Altoona since it was founded in 1868. That’s the same year the Burgets first moved to the area. He comes from a long line of family members who were dedicated to this community. Tim’s father, Robert Burget, served on the city council before Tim.
Tim served eight years on the Altoona City Council before being elected Mayor in November 1987. He served as Mayor for nearly 25 years, making him the longest-serving mayor in Altoona history. During his time in office, the city’s population more than doubled. Tim was a supporter of Prairie Meadows while serving on the City Council, and saw the project become a reality as Mayor.
He fought for Altoona to be recognized and to encourage growth for eastern Polk County. In the 1980s, he strongly pushed for the relocation of Highway 65 east of Des Moines. He knew that it would open new opportunities for the growth of Altoona.
“It gives the east side everything the west side has. I think it gives more balance,” Tim told the Des Moines Register in January of 1989. “We’re not saying, ‘West side, slow down.’ We’re saying we want to offer our citizens the same things, whether it’s a shopping center or whatever.”
The highway spurred major new growth in the city, helping bring in major big-box retailers including, Walmart, Menards, Target, and Lowe’s. A once quiet part of 8th Street is now a bustling hub of commercial activity and still encourages new growth, bringing in more major retailers still to this day.
On January 23, 2007, Tim joined a group of community leaders on a private flight to Springfield, Missouri to meet with officials at Bass Pro Shops headquarters. The group was there to work out a plan to bring the popular sporting goods retailer to Altoona. The company had been looking at the area off and on for years.
The news finally broke on December 20, 2007. “Altoona reels in Bass Pro franchise… Watch out, West Des Moines. Altoona has reeled in a big one,” The Des Moines Register proclaimed.
The addition of Bass Pro Shops spurred the development of the Shoppes at Prairie Crossing which today now include the Outlets of Des Moines, several restaurants, hotels, and shopping centers.
As closely tied to Altoona as he is, he understood early on that everyone prospers when communities worked as a region and not as individual cities. He worked closely to have Altoona join the Greater Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau in 1999. It wasn’t the easiest thing for him to accomplish at the time.
Advocating for his suburb earned Tim respect from other area officials.
Tim remembers one of his first Mid-Iowa Association of Local Governments meetings. There, Windsor Heights mayor Clarence Millsap made a lasting impact on young Mayor Burget. When he introduced himself as mayor of the Town of Altoona, Millsap corrected him in front of the entire assembly.
“Now just remember, young man, there are no such things as towns in Iowa,” Tim recalls. “There are only cities.”
On one hand, it was a technical point, Tim now explains. All incorporated areas in Iowa are classified as cities, not towns or villages.
He took the comment to heart, and then knew, mayoral pride is not about population count.
Tim also served as a board member of the Metro Waste Authority for 20 years, was a past director of the Iowa League of Cities, and a member of the Mid-Iowa Association of Local Governments.
He helped create the Altoona Area Historical Society and pushed for the city to purchase the old Porter Hardware building to serve as a museum for the community. Tim continues to serve as President of the organization. He is also credited with helping create the Altoona 150 planning committee.
Tim is a graduate of Southeast Polk High School and Drake University. He owns and operates Burget Mill, a feed and grain business that has been in Altoona for 125 years. He enjoys history, traveling, and fishing. But most importantly, he loves being a grandpa.
Since retiring as Mayor of Altoona, he has remained busy spending time with family and friends, and continuing to run the family business. He enjoys vacations with his wife Diane of 50 years, whether it’s a trip through small towns in Iowa or other parts of the world. He’s also a dedicated father and grandfather to his late son David, daughter Jennifer, son-in-law Brant, and grandaughters Davan, Libby, and Summer.