The city of Bettendorf’s proposed tax increment financing district for the BettPlex sports complex fell short of a total thumbs up from the Scott County Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s committee of the whole meeting.
Supervisors voiced concerns about the length of the TIF and the unfair tax advantage awarded the project’s hotel, retail and commercial businesses competing with existing Quad-City-area businesses.
County Planning and Development Director Tim Huey reviewed the criteria used in previous TIF considerations by supervisors. Primary job creation, tourism and the anticipated increase in sales tax revenue, and infrastructure to support new development are generally supported, according to Huey. Secondary jobs, retail and service development that competes with established businesses are not.
“This proposal has all three components,” Huey said. “We’re happy to have a regional sports facility in the Quad-Cities and happy that it will be in Scott County. But it does expand the TIF beyond retirement of the economic development grant.”
Huey was referring to a $1.9 million grant from the city to the developer at the onset of the project. The proposed TIF plan would fund a $4.9 million capital loan upfront and additional TIF revenue rebated to the developer for 20 years, even after the original debt was retired.
Huey reminded supervisors the designated urban renewal area at the Middle Road and Interstate 80 interchange has been “underdeveloped for a long time. This proposal has primed the pump,” Huey said.
Supervisor Diane Holst asked that the board’s letter of agreement to Bettendorf be changed to strike support for a commercial and recreational project.
“The bowling alley and a tiki bar are in competition with other businesses,” Holst said.
Board Chair Carol Earnhardt disagreed.
“We’re looking at quality of life,” Earnhardt said. “This will be great for tourism.”
Supervisor Ken Beck acknowledged Holst’s concerns.
“Nothing is perfect,” Beck said. “But as a whole the benefits of the sports complex outweigh the commercial objections.”
Supervisor Tony Knobbe’s concerns were more about the length of the TIF.
“I do support looking at the whole project rather than the individual components,” Knobbe said.
Supervisor Brinson Kinzer agreed with Knobbe.
“I support the project as is,” Kinzer said. “But I think going forward we need to adjust the wording for future offers and set parameters on the length of TIF agreements.”
County Administrator Mahesh Sharma said a revised TIF matrix was discussed in recent county strategic planning sessions and a proposal setting future TIF guidelines will be brought to the board in the near future.
Supervisors will vote on a resolution of support for the BettPlex project at the regular board meeting Thursday at 5 p.m.
In other business, Director of Facility and Support Services Tammy Speidel recommended supervisors consider a low bid of $17,573 from ABC Garage.com of Davenport to build a two-car garage at the new Sheriff Patrol Headquarters location in Eldridge. The garage will be used to store lawn care and snow removal equipment. Speidel explained that security and space issues require a storage structure separate from patrol headquarters.
County Engineer Jon Burgstrum presented a recommendation to complete a two-year survey of roadside vegetation in Scott County. A $9,800 grant from the Iowa Roadway Trust Fund and private pledges of $10,500 support the $10,534 survey of 345 miles of gravel or dirt roads, purchase of GPS equipment and other related costs such as travel and lodging.