Riverboat Development Authority board members ask a wide array of questions about Davenport's purchase of the Rhythm City casino, from historical context to development possibilities and location advantages and disadvantages.
RDA board members were to submit questions to RDA President Mary Ellen Chamberlin or board attorney Bob Gallagher Sr. by last Friday. The list of questions went to the city Monday.
The city is in the process of purchasing the Rhythm City casino for $46 million from the Isle of Capri using municipal bonds to fund it and bringing the casino onto land. The RDA is a nonprofit organization that actually holds the casino license.
The 35 questions fall under nine different areas, according to the document submitted to the city. They are about the city’s timeline, the nonprofit created by the city that would oversee the casino, city control of the nonprofit board, location advantages and disadvantages, revenue performance, casino employees, casino development, Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission reaction, miscellaneous and gaming history in Iowa and the Quad-Cities.
The miscellaneous questions include:
-- Would residents have an opportunity to vote on how gaming revenue is used?
-- If the city doesn’t get any good proposals from developers, how would it fund and develop a casino? Would the city call off the sale and work with the Isle to develop a land-based casino?
-- Has the city considered the cost of replacing casino equipment?
-- Would the city shift sewer bonds from general obligation to revenue bonds?
Some on the RDA board have questioned the city’s process for finding a developer for a land-based casino, arguing the process is skewed toward a downtown project as opposed to the city’s interstate corridor.
A meeting of the RDA board is scheduled for Friday where city officials are expected to answer the submitted questions.
Chamberlin will send board members several documents, including the part of Iowa law that governs boards such as the RDA, the RDA bylaws, articles of incorporation and the RDA’s conflict-of-interest policy.
“Most of the questions were aimed toward new members,” Chamberlin said. “How did we get here? What is the history between the city and the Isle?
“There is some confusion on what we can and cannot do. Hopefully, reading through this material, most of the questions going to the city have been addressed.”
None of the current board members except for Don Decker was on the RDA board in 2000 when the Isle took over the President riverboat.
City Administrator Craig Malin was waiting for the RDA questions to be submitted and will be prepared to answer those questions at Friday’s meeting.
“I look forward to receiving the questions and responding to them,” he said. “I anticipate there will be a few city representatives at the meeting.”
Malin also pointed out the city has proposed increasing the RDA’s share of the adjusted gross revenue from 4 percent to 4.5 percent once the casino goes land-based, then to 5 percent after 50 percent of the bond debt has been retired.