TIF measure shows connector split on council

A plan for spending some tax increment financing money was approved by the Fort Dodge City Council Monday, over the objections of Councilman Mark Taylor, who said he doesn’t want to commit funds to a downtown street realignment.

The measure calls for spending $180,000 of TIF money on the street realignment.

It also calls for spending $125,000 for salaries, professional fees and other administrative costs for urban renewal programs.

Additionally, it calls for spending $35,000 to assist the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District, a roughly 33-block downtown area in which property owners pay an extra tax to finance improvements there.

Tax increment financing occurs when increased property tax revenue from a designated area is set aside to be reinvested in that area.

Mayor Matt Bemrich said allocating some of that money for administrative costs and the Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District is done every year. Doing so again this year caused no debate during the council meeting Monday.

Earmarking some of the money for the street realignment is not an annual event, however.

Taylor has long opposed the realignment, which would join First and Second avenues south with a roundabout intersection at Sixth Street. It is part of a larger plan, called the crosstown connector, which would make First Avenue South a two-way street for its entire length.

Taylor said Monday that the $180,000 would be spent to buy seven pieces of property for the street realignment.

”I’m pretty sure direction was given several months ago that we don’t acquire more properties until after the election when we’ve decided for sure if we’re going to do the realignment or not,” he said.

”It just seems to me that staff is working on things that might happen and doesn’t seem to have time to work on things that I want done,” he added.

City Manager David Fierke said no property can be bought until the City Council authorizes such purchases.

Councilman Robert ”Barney” Patterson said the item before the council only declares what the city wants to do with the tax increment financing money.

”I agree with you, Councilman Taylor, but we’re not finalizing anything tonight,” he said.

The proposal was approved on a 5-1 vote.

Councilmen Kim Alstott, Andy Fritz, Dean Hill, Don Wilson and Patterson voted yes. Taylor voted no.

Councilman Dave Flattery was absent.

Wilson participated in the meeting by telephone.