Monday, February 15, 2010

Dispatch Tax Stuff

Some people in the comments on the previous post are starting a discussion on the city's decision not to lower taxes to make up for the county's new emergency dispatch center tax. I certainly haven't denied that the county taking over taxing for dispatch services and the city not lowering their taxes is a tax increase. Its just that we've known about it for years, despite what some people are claiming.

Here's a QCTimes article from 2007 talking about how they plan to use money saved by the (2009, ha!) opening of the consolidated dispatching center to hire front desk clerks for the police station. So you can see that at least 2 and a half years ago the city knew that they were going to be keeping at least some of the tax money currently spent on dispatching.

Sometimes unpopular things are the right thing to do. The article in today's Times about the AA bond rating is really a final verdict on the unpopular stormwater fee. If the council hadn't passed that "budget-fixing fee" a few years ago, the city budget would be in far worse shape. Instead, we've gone a number of years without the threat of police layoffs that used to be an annual event. So yes, taxes and fees in Davenport have been slowly rising over the last decade, but so has the quality of life. If we can keep making Davenport a better place to live, we should start gaining enough residents to spread the future costs out over more people, and keep taxes and fees steady.

42 Comments:

At 2/15/2010 5:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or if it isn't used to hire front staff at the PD, it can be used on the west end sewer. IMO, that needs to be taken care of.

I know I am the only one who thinks this, but I'd get rid of the spraypark, the 53rd library, and maybe a few other recreation stuff and use that money on the sewer. I just don't think the spraypark would be used much and I think we are ok with two libraries. Main Street may be a little worn, but it can be reburbished for a lot less than building a new one.

Nitrous55

 
At 2/15/2010 5:26 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Its a bit late now for all that...

The sewer's already well underway without canceling anything else, the library is more than half done, and hopefully the council sticks to the sprayground idea that was chosen during a public process for designing Centennial Park.

 
At 2/15/2010 6:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One thing that those who are always bitching and moaning about Davenport seem to always overlook is that, compared to the rest of the urban areas in Iowa, Davenport actually has a much lighter tax and fee burden.

Take a look at taxes and fees in Des Moines, Cedar Rapids and Iowa City.

Although there is always, unfortunately, a fair amount of waste in government operations, it's still a fact that "you get what you pay for."

Davenporters seem to want first-class, world-class services without their taxes of fees even rising with inflation (see two decades with no sewer increase).

It's like Davenporters want to wear Armani but shop at Wal-Mart.

 
At 2/16/2010 3:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Davenport is billing property tax at the highest rate allowed by law.

 
At 2/16/2010 7:29 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

53rd and Eastern must be a big area. I have never seen the library being built. For the spraypark, I never see too many people doen there other than joggers, bikers, and fishermen. The playgound equipment looks unused, but I have noticed the skatepark being used a lot.

6:53. you'll notice the ones complaining only want things they want or like. If they don't want it, we can't have it.

Nitrous55

 
At 2/16/2010 8:16 AM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

This blog has regular updates on the construction of the Eastern branch library. As of February 4th, it looks like they're doing utilities and sheetrock, so they're quite a ways along. It appears they're still on track to open this summer.

The sewer tunnel, in comparison, hasn't made it across River Drive yet, but they're working on it through all weather conditions.

 
At 2/16/2010 8:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all know that Jamies word is next to that of God. Look at you own 10 million dollar post QCI.

 
At 2/16/2010 9:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We are building that new library a little premature. There's hardly any homes built out in Malin Heights, so now we are expending money for a library and a new park close to there.

A town with a population of less than 100,000 doesn't need to pay for 3 libraries. When the 53rd Street library is completed, the downtown location should be closed, and the hobo's that hang out front can find someplace else to stand.

 
At 2/16/2010 10:32 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both branch libraries were voted by community, which increased library levy and from my perspective; a good thing.
I am concerned about the eagerness of this council to qucikly spend "new monies"!

 
At 2/16/2010 10:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh yes, the brilliant duo of Jamie Howard and QCI.

 
At 2/16/2010 11:16 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

53rd and Eastern is proof positive that the city should stick to things that they know, and stay out of the land development business. That also goes for the empty industrial parks.

We will be paying on those bonds for years, with no return benefit to the city.

 
At 2/16/2010 12:53 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We voted these people in office. If you are that upset about it, then take a more serious look at the next election. Maybe get with other like minded people and try to get people that think like you to run and win.

Nitrous55

 
At 2/16/2010 4:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nitrous: You need to tell the rest of us exactly how to determine how to vote. Most of us did our best to vote in the best councilmen, but when they preach one thing to get elected, then their first council meeting vote another, how does the common voter trying to do the right thing, vote the right way? You are the only one who claims to have figured it out.

 
At 2/16/2010 6:24 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Who on the council has acted differently than they campaigned?
Aside from people like Hamerlinck who got elected to "lower taxes and fees, and increase services" only to learn that that is impossible...

 
At 2/17/2010 4:29 AM, Blogger Zachary said...

Why can't we charge Bettendorf a higher user fee for the sewage we process for them. Davenport should be making a profit on that connection. Enough of a profit to cover any sewer upgrades. Is thinking outside of the box against the rules anymore?

 
At 2/17/2010 7:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

QCI, it's far easier to tell you who did tell the truth during campaigns over the past 50 years than to tell you who didn't.

The answer is easy: Keith Meyer.

He's the only one that kept his promises the whole time he was sitting on Council.

 
At 2/17/2010 8:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:56 and 7:23 here is what you do. Get together with like minded people (the thousands(?) over on Cruiser's blog would do). Set out what direction you want the city to go. Find a candidate that thinks the way you do (maybe even one of you). Help them get elected by getting out the message (do more than name calling). VOTE THIS TIME!!! No different than the evil D-1. Read one of Crusiers recent posts. I asked him to repost it the next election.

If a guy lies, fire his butt the next election. It will serve as a message to the others. But like QCI asked, where did they lie? It is the same council as years past. Just different names.

Nitrous55

 
At 2/17/2010 1:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In answer to your question-

When does a candidate lie?

Only when his lips move.

<:(~

 
At 2/17/2010 1:59 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is much easier to make the blanket statement "they all lie" than to cite specific examples, apparently.

I've actually found it refreshing that several members of this Council have actually listened, learned and changed their votes accordingly during the course of an item working through the system (Bill Edmond on denying the out-of-town, poor safety record contractors being awarded a bid comes to mind). Mike Matson also did the same on the sprayground, after saying he'd vote against it if it wasn't scaled back and included a winter use.

That's the way good government is supposed to work.

 
At 2/17/2010 2:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That new at large alderman. I forget his name. Was opposed to fee or tax increases. Let's see how quiet he is or how he votes.

 
At 2/17/2010 2:06 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

How should Davenport pay for its needed sewer infrastructure? Is it fair to expect that ones sewer rate remains static for two decades while the cost-of-living for everything else increases?

 
At 2/17/2010 2:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Property taxes haven't remained static.

 
At 2/17/2010 5:17 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

The city's property tax rate has stayed the same for a few years now, actually. The tax rate shouldn't need to change much, because people's property should increase in value similar to inflation. Unfortunately, many of the city's expenses have been increasing much faster than inflation, such as fuel and health care. Fees, on the other hand, don't increase to keep up with inflation, so they occasionally need to be raised. When councils are to afraid to raise them for 18 years, you get a big lump increase like we're getting now.

Despite my usual pro-QCTimes attitude, I do think their "anti-fee, tax" editorial is pretty strange. Maybe they should have been talking about the plummeting sewer fund balance over the last 5+ years? Its been no secret, considering Malin has pointed it out every budget cycle. You know, informing the public and what not...

 
At 2/17/2010 8:14 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

1:59, you do realize that awarding that west side diversion tunnel contract to a local contractor cost the city an extra $2 million, right? What you may not realize is that the safety issues were a red herring concocted by the very local contractors who were seeking the bid. Any contractor of decent size is going to have some OHSA violations, there's really no way around it. The local contractor wasn't more expensive because they are any safer, they are more expensive because they don't have the tunneling experience needed for this project (the low bidder had this experience). Lo and behold, there's been nothing but delays because the local hacks keep runnin into things they can't handle. I'm pro-local contractor, but not when their bid is significantly higher than a perfectly reputable out of town contractor, which was the case here.

 
At 2/17/2010 9:18 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

While the problems may not have been as serious as the local folks and unions wanted them to look, the company that was rejected wasn't as reputable as you say either. Even their attitude towards the council meetings showed some of what they were being accused of. As usual, I'd imagine the truth is somewhere in the middle.

 
At 2/18/2010 4:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeez, QCI, you're such a Malin-Council homer sometimes. I agree with you on a a wide range of things, but take it from someone in the business--the out of town contractor was recommended by the DOT and other cities where they had worked. I agree they could've sent a better representative to the council meetings, but the council blew this one to the tune of at least $2 million (probably more when all is said and done).

 
At 2/18/2010 8:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder if any of the aldermen or city staff called Stevens Point, Oshkosh or Des Moines to see what their experience with the rejected company was? All they seemed to do was listen to a bunch of union hacks and make the decision based on what they said. Seems like a poor way to do business and blow $2 million in the process.

 
At 2/19/2010 8:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

4:38
What one has to remember about the person posting this blog is that he is all about images. QCI can see and record things like a camera, one dimensional and he does a good job of that. But he can't see depth, constructs or what is going on behind or within. He is just not bright enough to examine issues in an in depth way. He can see what he read in the paper, what the Times tells him but that is about it. Quad City Images says it all. Enjoy.

 
At 2/19/2010 9:04 AM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

What does it say about you if you make the choice to read something you don't have any respect for? Feel free not to visit.

 
At 2/19/2010 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good old QCI. My way or the highway.

 
At 2/19/2010 5:44 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

My way or the highway would be if I deleted posts that I do not like, which I have never done.

I will, however, make fun of anyone that takes time out of their day to read something that they can't stand.

 
At 2/19/2010 8:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

just checking, but has anyone thought about the multiplier effect of keeping the money in the region as opposed to sending a state away? I bet the city gets back more than the 2 mil. Besides, I would much rather know that Billy Bob down the street is working on the project than Joe Shmoe from I don't know.

 
At 2/20/2010 9:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We would sure have to eat a a lot of corn and soybeans in Scott County.What would happen if every other city banned Davenport businesses.

 
At 2/20/2010 9:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Conservative Demo here:

Gents, I'm not sure that sewer plant is _OURS_ as I see bandied about on the blog.

Seems to me that I remember during the seventies when it was actually built, along with its tunnel down under River Drive from Bettendorf and PV, and the tunnel that follows Duck Creek (which is why we have that wonderful parkway there BTW),not to mention its really DEEP tunnel that follows Jersey Ridge Road, that it was built as a sewer plant owned by the three communities but merely located in southwest Davenport for logical technical reasons.

I don't know but I'd imagine that a fair share of the costs are borne by Bett and PV.

 
At 2/22/2010 10:21 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Complaining about adding a library to a community is ludicrous, especially considering both of our current libraries attendance numbers are astronomically high.

They've proven themselves to be a VERY efficient and affective community organization, and they'll pack the 3rd library just as well as the pack the other two.

Also, this continual "empty industrial parks" thing is not only inaccurate, but it's getting old. Several significant industrial businesses have moved in to the park over the last 3 years (Evolution Rage, etc.)

 
At 2/22/2010 12:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats strange. When you drive by those industrial parks they look like baron wasteland.

Evolution Rage moved out there after the city and county gave them numberous incentives and tax breaks. It was like they had to ''bribe'' them into locating there.

 
At 2/26/2010 9:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You do realize that EVERY CITY IN AMERICA has financial incentive packages, right? As in, if we don't, they'll simply move to the next community over and take their jobs with it. Is it really that hard to understand? If the City doesn't compete then you're on here pounding your first on the keyboard and bitching about how all of the industrial jobs are in Peoria and Des Moines

Also, don't you think the whole thing would have filled up by now if the City were really being overly generous with its incentives? Your own logic doesn't even make sense.

"Barren wasteland?" Every square inch doesn't have to be full to justify the parks existence, and the several businesses located there now still COUNT. You can't pretend they aren't there just because it works against your half-ass narrative that the whole thing sucks.

The rail spur and its proximity to I-80 WILL get traction - it's simply too good of a spot for transportation not to fill up sooner or later. The more its marketed, the sooner it will continue to fill as the economy turns around.

What I don't understand about an attitude like yours is that you appear to take great pleasure the possibility of our collective failure. As if by your cynicism that you're somehow helping...anything.

I'd be more impressed by your wise-ass remarks if you at least had an argument that didn't fall flat on its face out of the gate. Until then, I remain unimpressed by your uninformed opinion.

 
At 2/26/2010 12:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just did some further research and it turns out there are about 5 companies there, which likely equates to hundreds of jobs. "Barren wasteland" my ass.

 
At 2/26/2010 2:50 PM, Blogger QuadCityImages said...

Well said.

 
At 2/27/2010 7:03 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While doing your research, you should have checked out the City Council/Committee of the Whole meeting in the last three weeks. Most of the Council chastized the Community and Economic Department Director over the board, which is part of D-1 for doing nothing for the 2 large donations that Davenport gives them to go to conferences and do networking to get the 'baron wasteland' filled up. They further made it clear that if the new director that was just hired didn't get off his ass and get some results, that the current council would take another look at the money that is being donated, and most likely we would no longer contribute.

So there are some in high places who are just as sick as the bloggers about the waste of money at the industrial park.

 
At 2/27/2010 8:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First off, they voted to increase funding to expand the rail spur and invest further in the park. That hardly sounds like a group of people who think it's in decline, or that it's being mismanaged.

The City is in the midst of expanding their relationships with all of the groups involved in recruiting for the space, not reducing them. A council threatening to "take another look" at the funding model if "X" result isn't seen is standard issue politics. Nothing regarding the park was nearly as divisive as you're making it sound.

There's not doubt everyone wants to see additional business move in, but don't try to make it sound like there's some huge unspoken disappointment here. They're gearing up to make it even more marketable. You don't vote to do that if you believe those working it on it are doing a poor job. That action speaks louder than any grandstanding over funding that may occurred, period.

 
At 2/27/2010 9:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just to set the facts straight, it was not the current or the last Council that voted for the Rail Spur. It was started several Council terms ago, and then they came back about 6 years ago and said that more money was needed to complete the project, and the Councilmen that were seated at that time approved the second request for cash to finish the spur.

The current Councilmen are going to be faced with spending more money for a new request for a structure for loading and unloading railcars to be built. This is not a container loading/unloading investment, as the city staff has determined that the area dedicated for this is not large enough. That vote has not happened yet, as they just had a confirmation of some state/federal funds to help, but the Council will have to vote on Davenport's contribution of a million dollars taken from the CIP budget.

 

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