Perfect weather for start of Channel Cat Water Taxi service on Mississippi River in Quad Cities.

Yellow cornflowers sway in the summer breeze as bees flit from flower to flower seeking pollen.

Artist John Bloom's "Waiting for the Ferry" sculpture of two young boys graces the Mississippi Riverfront near Lindsay Park, Davenport.

Construction work on support piers for the new Interstate 74 bridge between Bettendorf and Moline now is under way.

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.

Investment firm specializing in 'out of favor companies' takes 7 percent stake in Lee Enterprises

A Stamford, CT investment firm that specializes in "stressed, distressed and out of favor companies" has acquired a 6.9 percent stake in Lee Enterprises, the Davenport-based media company which owns the Quad City Times.

Archview Investment Group L.P. reported today (2/14) that it had acquired 3.8 million shares of Lee stock as of Dec. 31, 2016. U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rules require disclosure when an individual or company acquires 5 percent or more ownership in a publicly traded firm.

'Sports complex' allocated millions in proposed city budget; project yet to be publicly discussed

The proposed Bettendorf city budget would allocate more than $15 million to build a "sports complex" that has yet to be discussed publicly by aldermen.

The budget – which will be discussed at an all-day public work session Saturday (2/11) – includes $2 million for purchase of land for the "sports complex," more than $2 million for roads, lighting and sewer extensions for the project, and lists the issuance of $11.2 million in debt (bonds and notes) to finance the facility construction.

EPA rejects IDNR effort to loosen water quality standards; change pushed by industry lobbyists

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has rejected an effort to loosen water quality protection rules in Iowa, saying proposed changes to "antidegradation standards" sought by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) violate federal rules.

In a letter to the IDNR January 19, the EPA's Region 7 Administrator Mark Hague wrote the state was "seeking to establish a one-size-fits-all rule that only projects costs less than 115 percent of base costs optimize 'the balance between water quality benefits and project costs.' "

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