The Davenport City Council is considering an additional option for its Davenport Now property tax rebate program that would allow investing for college expenses.
The new option would be called "College Cornerstone," City Administrator Craig Malin told the council during a brief presentation Thursday. The new option would be part of a four-year extension the council is considering for the Davenport Now program.
Under the current program, the city offers a 50 percent tax rebate for 10 years on new construction of a single-family home or business or renovation of a historic home. The average rebate amount is $6,500.
The new proposal would allow taxpayers in the program to put the rebate into a 529 college savings plan of their choice. The property owner must show proof of the investment.
Less than 1 percent of public safety calls come from areas of the city platted in the last 10 years, Malin said.
"We are money ahead as these neighborhoods develop," he said.
Based on average returns for 529 plans, investing in the Cornerstone plan could return $18,800 over 10 years and $32,700 over 15 years, Malin said.
"We're not here to tell you what choice to make," Malin told aldermen. "We're just want to give you great choices."
Alongside a program in Davenport Public Schools that allows students to graduate with a two-year associate's degree, the 529 could pay for about two years of college, Malin said.
The concept was met positively by the council and Mayor Bill Gluba though some, like Alderman Jason Gordon, at large, wanted to review it a little more closely ahead of next week's vote. Alderman Ray Ambrose, 4th Ward, called it "a wonderful idea."
The Davenport Now program was started in 2009 as a way to jump-start slumping housing construction. In talking to developers and builders, city staff learned that a four-year extension would help with several projects in the beginning stages.
"I think it is an excellent sign that we do have interest in Davenport, Alderman Gene Meeker, at large, said. "The number of starts is a good reason to extend what we are doing here."
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Alderman Bill Edmond, 2nd Ward, succinctly asserted that the tuition investment program isn't the ghost of a failed proposal to provide college tuition to Davenport high school graduates considered jointly by the city and school district a few years ago.
"The Davenport council is not revisiting Davenport Promise," he said.
Gluba smiled at the comment about the Davenport Promise, a concept he supported. He thinks the proposal outlined Thursday is a good one, just like the Promise.
"You're not going to hurt your community by wanting to have your kids to be the best-trained, best-educated," Gluba said after the meeting.
Malin told the council that the logistics of the Cornerstone proposal still needed if it is adopted by the council. It wouldn't take effect until July at the start of the next fiscal year.