All Bettendorf City Council input into sports complex tax rebate deal done behind closed doors

The City of Bettendorf recently negotiated a complicated agreement with sports complex developers over a six-month period, but did so without even a single email or written document shared with city council members.

So how did the city reach a deal with developers Doug Kratz, Kevin Koellner and Ryan Hintze without sharing any written communication with city council members or any public meetings to discuss what should be in the contract?

According to City Attorney Chris Curran, the council was kept abreast of staff negotiations through "informational meetings" held behind closed doors.

Those "informational meetings" were not public because fewer than a majority (3) council members attended each one. The "informational meetings" held in city hall thus avoided state laws requiring public notification, minutes or any participation by the public in the discussions.

In response to a Freedom of Information request by, the city provided more than 500 pages of emails between the city and developers which led to a 22-page agreement providing $14 million in tax rebates and nearly $6 million in direct grants for expansion of the sports complex on the northeast corner of Forest Grove and Middle Roads.

"The development agreement was negotiated through good faith, arm’s length negotiations between the parties," City Attorney Curran wrote in an email when asked how the tax rebate and grants were developed. "The city was represented by a team of staff members. Council members were apprised of negotiation progress via a series of informational meetings."

City council members apparently did not receive any draft copies of the proposed agreement until Feb. 11, just four days before a public hearing and approval of the plan at the Feb. 15 council session.

Only one alderman asked a substantive question concerning the agreement after a staff presentation on the proposal during the Feb. 14 committee-of-the-whole session. The agreement passed unanimously the next night after the public hearing.

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