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Bettendorf sports complex developers to get more than $7 million in upfront grants and loans; no plans to conduct 'due diligence' review of development

Even though Bettendorf will upfront more than $7 million in cash, grants and land acquisition to developers of a $45-million sports complex, city officials say they do not intend to conduct any detailed financial review of the project or project partners.

Asked via email if the city had in the past, or planned in the future, to conduct any due diligence review of the finances of developers involved in the project, City Administrator Decker Ploehn replied with a one-word answer: "No."

In past Tax Increment Financing (TIF) development deals, city officials have been unconcerned with developer finances because city tax rebates wouldn't occur unless the development was completed at the agreed upon investment by the developer.

If the project was not completed, city officials reasoned in the past, there would be no "incremental tax" to then rebate back to the developers.

However, the development package prepared by city officials and scheduled for a public hearing and approval May 2 by the city council, would provide $1.9 million in cash, a $4.9 million upfront grant, plus $600,000 to buy 10-acres from the developers when the building permits for the sport complex are issued this summer.

Bettendorf betting $11.2 million on sportsplex to kickstart development at I-80 and Middle Road

After secret briefings given Bettendorf aldermen in mid January, the city added $11.2 million in bonds to its proposed budget to pay for roads, sewers, stormwater detention and developer loans and rebates for a sports complex at Forest Grove and Middle Road.

According to documents and emails obtained by Bettendorf.com through a Freedom of Information request, city officials in those non-public sessions discussed with aldermen the impact the sports complex would have on next year's capital improvement plan (CIP), city tax levy and debt margin.

The project was outlined a month later at a news conference Feb. 17 by Mayor Robert Gallagher and developer Douglas Kratz, but aldermen have yet to publicly discuss the sport complex plans or its financial impact on city finances at an open city council meeting.

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