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Local

Hansen: ‘Not one penny’ of taxpayer money will be used for Project Fastpitch

City council approved development agreement, up to $8.5 million TIF rebates

Mayor Mike Hansen
Mayor Mike Hansen

Before closing a public hearing authorizing a development agreement with The Circle Development, LLC., which announced its intentions in August to build a $32 million softball complex with the help of rebated tax increment finance (TIF) payments not exceeding $8.5 million, Newton Mayor Mike Hansen wanted to make something “perfectly clear” with the town’s taxpayers:

“Not one penny of property taxpayers’ money in this city is going for these rebates,” Hansen said Monday night during the Newton City Council meeting. “This comes directly from the property tax payments from this development group on this project.”

Remarking he has heard the concerns of citizens airing their grievances inside Newton’s coffeeshops and barbershops, the mayor doubled down on his comments made during the initial press announcement of Project Fastpitch, in which he was “proud to tell everybody” that “not one red cent of their property tax dollars will go toward this project.”

As a matter of fact, Hansen continued, what the Circle Development, LLC, doesn’t get back “is any of the debt service payment that’s generated by this project,” which all goes back to the city’s debt service. The Circle Development, LLC. does not get back the base valuation of the property either, which is returned to “the general fund and general funds of the other taxpaying bodies,” Hansen said.

Upon closing the public hearing, the Newton City Council approved the development agreement and ensuing incentives. According to city documents, local incentives, such as TIF payments, are often needed in order to attract new developments.

Project Fastpitch will be built in the recently created 2019 Sports Entertainment Urban Renewal Area, located in between Rusty Wallace Drive and Interstate 80. City staff anticipate the development of the indoor and outdoor softball complex will “create momentum for additional development in the area.”

The development agreement will provide assistance to the project and its developers in the form of TIF rebates. City documents say the property owner pays the tax bill in full, and a portion of the taxes paid are rebated back to the project/property owner.

Over the life of the development agreement, the amount of TIF rebate dollars going back into the project will not exceed $8.5 million.

“Let me repeat this so that everybody perfectly understands and is clear about this: Not one cent of anybody’s property tax in the city of Newton is going to pay this $8.5 million worth of incentive rebates back to this project,” Hansen said.

In other action Monday, the city council:

• Awarded a $770,818 contract to InRoads, LLC, of Des Moines, for the First Avenue East hot-mixed asphalt resurfacing project, which would extend from approximately a few blocks west of East 14th Street to Iowa Speedway Drive. In February 2019, the Iowa Department of Transportation (IDOT) agreed to pay an estimated $600,000 for their share of the project. In addition to the road resurfacing, contractors will create a continuous sidewalk along the street.

• Awarded an approximately $1.1 million contract to Seamus Excavating, of Clive, for the Arbor Estates Plat 1 Construction Project. Plans and specifications for Phase 1 of the project were prepared by Bolton & Menk and placed out for bid. Nine bids were received Oct. 2.

• Approved a resolution allowing several dead and dying trees in Maytag Park, Sunset Park and Union Cemetery to be removed. City staff said the trees create a danger to visitors and are unsightly. Removing the trees requires additional equipment the city does no possess. Trees have already been marked for removal by staff. The Newton City Council awarded a $32,000 contract to A-Z Tree Service, of Colfax, to remove the trees.

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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