Despite some obvious frustration, members of the Riverboat Development Authority signed off on a contract change, clearing the way for construction of a road that will lead to Davenport's new land-based casino.
The RDA last week tabled a vote on an amendment to a joint development agreement with the city of Davenport and Scott County Casino LLC, owner of the Rhythm City Casino. The group, which holds the state license for the casino, wanted clarification on the wording of the change, which board president Mary Ellen Chamberlin described as "sloppy."
The amendment, which makes changes to the payment schedule for the city's share of gaming proceeds, was negotiated between the city and Scott County Casino, which some board members said was out of line. Given the joint development agreement also involves the RDA, members said, the authority should have been involved.
"This delay would never have happened," Chamberlin said.
"Being pushed against a wall at the very end is not comfortable," board member Chad Lewis said, adding he wanted assurances the RDA "will have a place at the table" in the event of future negotiations.
To avoid another delay of at least a month, the RDA approved the amendment but also approved an accompanying letter of clarification for the measure. If the group asked for a rewrite of the agreement, the new document would have to be approved by the Iowa Racing & Gaming Commission, which would have again slowed the construction start.
"In a perfect world, I'd like to scrap the agreement and write a new agreement," RDA attorney Bob Gallagher said.
The clarification of the change disclosed that the city was to be paid an additional 0.4 percent of net gaming proceeds for eight years, beginning one year after the casino opened. Instead, the city will get its 0.4 percent on the day the casino opens and each year for the next seven years.
Chamberlin said the purpose of the "accelerated schedule" is to give the city a guaranteed bond-payment schedule. The city is issuing bonds, she said, to pay for the extension of Elmore Drive, leading to the casino at Interstates 80 and 74.
"This is how they assure the bonding company is paid," she said. "The city gets paid the day the doors open, rather than a year later."
At the conclusion of Wednesday's special meeting, Scott County Casino general manager Mo Hyder told the RDA that groundbreaking for the road and infrastructure is Aug. 28, pending "last-minute legal details."
The target opening is late next year or early in 2016, Hyder said.