Pigeon Creek flows into the Mississippi River in Bettendorf's Pigeon Creek Park.

Davenport/Bettendorf achieve big reductions in sewage overflows; court ordered fixes address dumping of sewage into Mississippi River

Upgrades to the jointly owned Davenport/Bettendorf sewage system over the past four years has led to "marked reductions" in untreated and partially treated sewage being dumped into the Mississippi River during flooding and after heavy rainfalls.

According to the annual report to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) filed April 1, the improvements to the sewage treatment plant and sewage collection systems in the two communities have "reduced sewer backups and overflows.

Lee Enterprises second quarter earnings flat after adjusting for one-time insurance boost a year ago

Lee Enterprises – owner of the Quad City Times – reported second quarter earnings Thursday (5/4) of $6.4 million, down 67 percent from the same period a year ago when a one-time insurance settlement added more than $13 million to the company's bottomline.

Net income for the three months ended March 26 was 11 cents per share compared with 36 cents per share for the same period a year ago.

Mayor enlists friends to lobby fellow city council members; push for city sports complex incentives

Bettendorf Mayor Bob Gallagher – apparently fearing fellow city council members might reject millions in taxpayer funded incentives for a proposed sports complex – sent an email to friends and associates last week urging them to lobby the city council in support of the venture.

"I have learned that people who detract from projects organize and gather to be heard," Gallagher wrote in the email. "While those who trust their elected officials and support wonderful projects, usually don’t make it a point to be heard. That is human nature. I need you to please be heard on this one!"

Gallagher attached a copy of a "city incentive versus city benefits" memo which claims the $45-million sports complex would provide a $2.95 million "net benefit" to the city. However, the analysis failed to include an estimated $14 million in tax rebates the developers would receive under the 20-year Tax Increment Financing (TIF) deal.

City would give developers $14 million in tax rebates, plus $7 million in upfront incentives under sports complex deal up for city council approval May 2

Developers of the proposed Bettendorf sports complex would receive more than $14 million in property tax rebates over the 20-year life of the Tax Increment Financing (TIF) deal with the city. That's in addition to $7 million in upfront incentives from taxpayers contained in a development agreement on the fasttrack for approval by the city council Tuesday (5/2).

In a "talking points" memo given aldermen by City Administrator Decker Ploehn, the city claims the "net benefit" from the sports complex (if a 100-room hotel is built) would be $2.95 million. However, the "city incentives vs. city benefits" overview fails to include 20 years of "incremental taxes" which will be rebated back to the developers.

Without the TIF, those "incremental taxes" from the development would otherwise go to the city, the county and the Pleasant Valley school district.

Bettendorf sports complex developers to get more than $7 million in upfront grants and loans; no plans to conduct 'due diligence' review of development

Even though Bettendorf will upfront more than $7 million in cash, grants and land acquisition to developers of a $45-million sports complex, city officials say they do not intend to conduct any detailed financial review of the project or project partners.

Asked via email if the city had in the past, or planned in the future, to conduct any due diligence review of the finances of developers involved in the project, City Administrator Decker Ploehn replied with a one-word answer: "No."

In past Tax Increment Financing (TIF) development deals, city officials have been unconcerned with developer finances because city tax rebates wouldn't occur unless the development was completed at the agreed upon investment by the developer.

If the project was not completed, city officials reasoned in the past, there would be no "incremental tax" to then rebate back to the developers.

However, the development package prepared by city officials and scheduled for a public hearing and approval May 2 by the city council, would provide $1.9 million in cash, a $4.9 million upfront grant, plus $600,000 to buy 10-acres from the developers when the building permits for the sport complex are issued this summer.

Plan to add $100,000 splash pad at Lincoln Park gets a lukewarm reception from neighbors

A plan to add a $100,000 splash pad at Bettendorf's Lincoln Park got a lukewarm reception from neighbors at a public meeting Wednesday (4/12) with the city's park board.

Neighborhood residents raised concerns about parking and the loss of greenspace for other youth activities. They also felt that if such a water feature was added at the park, located at Central Avenue and 27th Street, a restroom would be needed.

Bettendorf betting $11.2 million on sportsplex to kickstart development at I-80 and Middle Road

After secret briefings given Bettendorf aldermen in mid January, the city added $11.2 million in bonds to its proposed budget to pay for roads, sewers, stormwater detention and developer loans and rebates for a sports complex at Forest Grove and Middle Road.

According to documents and emails obtained by Bettendorf.com through a Freedom of Information request, city officials in those non-public sessions discussed with aldermen the impact the sports complex would have on next year's capital improvement plan (CIP), city tax levy and debt margin.

The project was outlined a month later at a news conference Feb. 17 by Mayor Robert Gallagher and developer Douglas Kratz, but aldermen have yet to publicly discuss the sport complex plans or its financial impact on city finances at an open city council meeting.

Only six exceedances of ambient air standards recorded in 2016; none recorded in Muscatine

Only six exceedances of National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) were recorded in Iowa during 2016 with none in Muscatine – long the state's hot spot for air pollution.

The Iowa Department of Natural Resource's Air Quality Bureau reported four exceedances of ozone standards and two exceedances of PM 2.5 (fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns) standards for last year.

Twisting arms in Washington, D.C. to protect Rock Island Arsenal jobs, programs gets more expensive

The cost of twisting arms in Washington, D.C. to support Rock Island Arsenal jobs and interests just got a lot more expensive.

Local governments have been paying $125,000 annually to beltway lobbyist Hurt, Norton and Associates to keep an eye on government agencies and proposed legislation which might impact Arsenal employment and operations.

With the intent of "going on offense rather than playing defense," the Bi-State Regional Commission Wednesday (2/22) hired a new firm – The Roosevelt Group – for $240,000 a year, or nearly double the previous contract.

Isle of Capri reports higher third quarter results thanks in part to new land-based Bettendorf casino

Isle of Capri Casinos, Inc. reported higher third quarter earnings Thursday (2/23) compared with a year ago, thanks in part to improved results at its new land-based Bettendorf Isle of Capri gambling facility.

Net income totaled $8.2 million (15 cents per share) for the three months ended January 22, compared with $6.6 million (13 cents per share) for the same period a year ago.

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