One recommendation received by Davenport aldermen and their desire to meet with the Riverboat Development Authority was to take a step back and wait.
The Davenport City Council discussed a resolution Wednesday inviting the RDA to meet with aldermen in the next 30 days regarding three casino proposals received by both sides.
Walter Skovronski, president of the city's landlord association, told aldermen they were pushing too much, however. The RDA has taken over the search for a casino operator willing to develop a land-based casino after the city sought to acquire the Rhythm City from the Isle of Capri.
"You've gotten accomplished a large part of your goal," he said. "You've gotten this off-center.
"Now's the time to sit back, smoke a cigar, drink a beer," he said. "If they are so smart, let them do their work."
The city received a letter from the RDA earlier this week, saying it was inappropriate to meet until there is "substantive information to share."
The RDA response prompted Aldermen Ray Ambrose, 4th Ward, and Gene Meeker, At Large, to call the lengthy discussion a moot endeavor.
"Until the RDA gives us the opportunity to discuss the future of gaming in Davenport, this is moot," Ambrose said. "I think we've done some good work, and the public should know it."
Several aldermen wanted to extend the invitation so the proposals could be discussed. For a time, that issue was lost in the discussion as residents continued to raise concerns over a $387,500 bill from Deloitte and Touche for conducting due diligence in the casino acquisition.
Resident David Haase, who spoke about the bill last week, noted city officials vowed not to use property tax for acquisition and operation of the casino, and he hoped it would stay that way.
The city has options in how to pay for it through gaming revenues and leases, said Alderman Jeff Justin, 6th Ward, who chairs the council's finance committee.
"I am confident property tax won't be used," he said.
Resident Tony Lorentzen questioned a city estimate that the property tax rate could be lowered by $3 to $4 per $1,000 assessed value because of a city-owned casino.
"It is very conservative modeling," City Administrator Craig Malin explained of revenues and costs. "It is public ownership that drives that number down. Those tax rate reductions are within the realm of possibility with an Interstate 80 casino."
Alderman Mike Matson, 8th Ward, said several computations are involved, so the one quoted in a city fact sheet isn't the only set of numbers being used.
"We've seen multiple versions, multiple spreadsheets," he said. "There is a discussion about what this is. There are other opinions and other numbers."
Alderman Barney Barnhill, 7th Ward, also showed his frustration with seeing different spreadsheets for each proposal. Saying the figures are "very confusing to me," he asked that an easy-to-read version be provided within a week.
"It seems like we are getting new spreadsheets every week," he said. "I want one sheet we can all understand."
Alderman Nathan Brown, 1st Ward, felt comfortable with the spreadsheets he's seen.
"Right now, we have a good projection if it is city-owned," he said. "That is a good start."
Reached on Wednesday, RDA president Mary Ellen Chamberlin said the search committee met for about an hour Monday, mostly to draft the letter to the city. The committee isn't expected to meet again for two or three weeks.
Proposals and inquiries are being forwarded to The Innovation Group at the request of the Isle of Capri, owner of the Rhythm City.
At the council meeting, Justin said he wants the RDA to move quickly.
"People need to remember we went down the road not thinking of city ownership," he said. "We went down the same path the RDA did. I have no problem supporting the RDA, but move it along."