A proposal that would establish a special taxing district for Bettendorf’s downtown is advancing in City Hall. Aldermen are scheduled to begin the public hearings process early next month.
The proposal is similar to ones in Davenport and Moline, where property owners petition for an increased tax levy in a specific area to go toward projects in their own backyards.
Ryan Jantzi, director of the Downtown Bettendorf Organization, says about twice the minimum number of industrial, commercial and multi-residential property owners have signed on to the petition. The wide support, he said, demonstrates that downtown property owners are eager to have a new mechanism for beautifying the neighborhood and spurring economic activity.
The proposal would create an additional tax for downtown commercial, industrial and multi-residential property owners at $2.75 per $1,000 of assessed value. If approved, money generated by the taxes would go toward enhancing the downtown area. Current outlined plans for that money include creation of a website, work plans for future capital projects, graffiti removal and additional cleaning.
One of the biggest downtown properties not included in the district’s boundary is the Isle Casino and Hotel. Jantzi said the casino, which is supportive of the effort, is instead paying a flat fee along with the city that will amount to about $150,000 of the $300,000 that’s expected to be generated annually.
The move to establish a special taxing district has been underway for nearly two years, and has been identified by the council as a high priority.
In October, the council approved a letter of support for the district that came along with the promise of exploring funding from city tax dollars. Economic Development Director Jeff Reiter said the city’s share would likely be capped at around $100,000 annually.
“There’s been a lot of spirit and will to get something enacted,” Reiter added. “There’s a lot of passion for downtown and it’s really exciting to see what’s been done and achieved in Moline and downtown Davenport with their self-taxing districts. They’ve seen great strides made. I think something like this in downtown Bettendorf can only help.”
The first public hearing on the matter is scheduled to take place June 4.
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Massage therapy ordinance passed
Aldermen passed an ordinance establishing regulations for massage therapists and reflexologists, responding to a larger effort aimed toward ridding the Quad-Cities of human trafficking and illegal sex work.
The ordinance, passed unanimously Tuesday night, establishes requirements for massage therapists to be licensed by the state in order to conduct business within city limits. Reflexologists, who massage feet, ears and hands, are required to obtain a license from the city.
Bettendorf Police Chief Keith Kimball said the measure gives local law enforcement another tool to investigate potentially illicit businesses. He added that local police are still looking into whether any such businesses currently exist in Bettendorf, adding that the ordinance is meant to be “proactive” by keeping them from setting up shop in town.
A similar law was recently passed in Davenport and across the river in Moline. Kimball said Bettendorf’s new rule mirrors the Davenport one by design, and the passage by council members makes Bettendorf one of more than a dozen Iowa cities to establish rules governing massage.
As a warmer spring is beginning to set in, Bettendorf officials have issued a proclamation establishing May as Motorcycle Awareness Month.
The proclamation calls for motorcycle organizations, dealerships and clubs to actively promote safe motorcycle operation, increased rider training and motorist awareness. Following the proclamation, Alderman Greg Adamson, 4th Ward, recounted the death of his son-in-law during a motorcycle accident a few years ago.
Adamson said the driver who struck his son-in-law wasn’t on drugs or driving erratically — he just didn’t see him. The alderman called on motorists to be aware of their surroundings with that warning in mind.
“You got to really pay attention, keep of your phones and pay attention to what you’re doing and save a life. It’s real. It’s real out there,” he said.