Bettendorf City Council

Bettendorf taxpayers to pay far more for sports complex streets, sewer and stormwater detention

Bettendorf taxpayers will pay far more for streets, sewers and stormwater detention than the $3.87 million stipulated in the contract with the Bettendorf sports complex developer.

In private 3-on-3 meetings with aldermen July 5, city officials outlined a summary of estimated infrastructure costs for the sports complex showing construction bids received so far are $844,000 above the cap set in the development agreement between the city and developer Douglas Kratz.

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 alderman submits resignation effective year-end; Mohr elected to state house in November

Bettendorf Alderman Gary Mohr will step down from his at-large council seat Dec. 31 following his election to the Iowa House of Representatives in last November's general election.

The resignation creates a one-year vacancy, which can be filled by either an interim appointment by the council or by a special election.

In accepting Mohr's resignation letter at its Nov. 15 meeting, the council did not discuss which method the city would choose to fill the opening.

City administrator, five council members rack up $684 food tab at swank Des Moines restaurant

After hearing presentations on "The Leadership Role for City Officials" at the annual Iowa League of Cities conference in September, Bettendorf's city administrator and five aldermen adjourned for dinner at the 801 ChopHouse Restaurant, a downtown Des Moines steakhouse "modeled after the classic New York steakhouses of the 1920's," according to its website. Very expensive also would describe the restaurant.

Jumer's Castle Lodge owner seeks 100% tax rebate for 10 years for redevelopment of hotel property

The owner of the vacant and dilapidated Jumer's Castle Lodge in Bettendorf would be given a full rebate of all property taxes for 10 years under a proposed development agreement scheduled for consideration at next week's (July 5) city council meeting.

The agreement and proposed Tax Incremental Financing (TIF) ordinance have been given aldermen for review and the council is expected to set a date for a required public hearing on the redevelopment plan.

Iowa Supreme Court ruling toughens open meetings law; staff acting as agents count toward quorum

A recent Iowa Supreme Court ruling is expected to toughen the state's open meetings law, finding a county administrator should be counted the same as an elected official in determining whether a majority of board members were present at private meetings since she was acting as an "agent" for other board members not in attendance.

Many public bodies – including the Bettendorf and Davenport City Councils – have in the past intentionally held less-than-majority meetings to circumvent the state's open meeting law and avoid 24-hour public notice and public inclusion in the sessions.

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