Bettendorf taxpayers to pay far more for sports complex streets, sewer and stormwater detention

Bettendorf taxpayers will pay far more for streets, sewers and stormwater detention than the $3.87 million stipulated in the contract with the Bettendorf sports complex developer.

In private 3-on-3 meetings with aldermen July 5, city officials outlined a summary of estimated infrastructure costs for the sports complex showing construction bids received so far are $844,000 above the cap set in the development agreement between the city and developer Douglas Kratz.

Moreover, bids have yet to be received on the largest infrastructure cost – improvements to Middle and Forest Grove Roads – contained in the development agreement. The agreement estimated the roadway improvements would cost $1.15 million.

City officials are now hoping to obtain federal or state funds to partially offset the cost of Middle Road and Forest Grove Road improvements.

In awarding two of the bids – totaling $3.965 million – at the July 5 council meeting, city officials first subtracted $288,000 in sewer costs from the work calling it "regional infrastructure" and "outside the scope of the BettPlex development agreement," according to an email from City Attorney Chris Curran.

Without the exclusion of the $288,000, the bids would have exceeded the $3.87 million contract agreement with Kratz and would have likely required an amendment to the contract.

Amending the contract would have delayed the infrastructure work since a revised agreement would have to be approved by the developer and city, the new agreement published in the newspaper as a public notice and then a public hearing scheduled for public input before a city council vote.

City Administrator Decker Ploehn told alderman at the council meeting that the city should pay the $288,000 in sewer costs because the work would provide service to not only the sports complex but more than 100 acres of land to the west of the sports complex.

The remaining $556,000 "shortfall" would be split between the developer and the city, Ploehn said, because of the added expense of installing interior streets to meet city street construction standards.

There was no reference to "regional infrastructure" in any of the documents prepared by the city when it issued general obligation bonds to pay for the sport complex infrastructure.

The city has been pushed by the developer to complete the infrastructure for the sports complex before the end of the year. In addition to the $3.87 million in general obligation bonds, the city issued $4.9 million in Tax Increment Financing (TIF) bonds to be paid back over 20 years by the developer from the incremental tax revenue of the estimated $47-million project.

The city also agreed to buy 10 acres of land from the developer for $600,000, and provide $1.9 million in upfront grants to the developer, $500,000 payable July 31 of this year and the remaining $1.4 million when the building permit is issued. Site work has begun at the 79-acre sports complex and the developer hopes to have the facility open by mid-2018.

CLICK HERE to view the BettPlex cost summary, obtained through a Freedom of Information request by, that was provided by city officials to aldermen in private meetings.

Two separate "informational sessions" involved aldermen Deb LeMar, Frank Baden, Scott Naumann, Scott Webster, Jerry Sechser and Lisa Brown. The aldermen met in groups of three to avoid violating the state Open Meetings Law which requires public meetings and a posting of the meeting 24-hours in advance if a majority (4) of members attend.

The BettPlex contract awards were scheduled for approval on the council's "consent agenda," which does not allow any discussion and involves one motion and approval for a list of normally routine resolutions.

Alderman Sechser asked the bids be removed from the consent agenda for discussion and a separate vote. He was the only "no" vote, expressing concern about the city's growing debt level.

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