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At its final meeting of year, the La Crescent City Council cleared the way to move ahead with construction of the Hotel/Event Center complex in Spring of 2018.

Following a public hearing, the Council unanimously passed resolutions creating a Tax Increment Financing District (TIF) and authorizing development agreements with the Hotel and Event Center.

Northland Securities Representative Tammy Omdal explained to the Council and about a dozen residents who attended the hearing that the TIF District would allow the City to grant $350,000 in upfront assistance to the Hotel.

She also said the City would finance the measure by issuing General Obligation Tax Increment Bonds. The City will recover its outlay through taxes. The proposed development is estimated to generate approximately $1,647,000 in total tax increment over the course of its 26-year lifespan.

At a cost of $5.8 million the Hotel will be a 53 unit nationally franchised facility featuring an indoor pool, fitness and business centers and an outdoor patio. The $3.1 million Event Center will boast 12,700 square feet of space with seating for about 360.

During the hearing, resident Jeff Thorne asked if the new TIF district would raise taxes and whether the City would be part owner in the development. Omdal answered no to both questions. Thorne also asked when the resolutions would go into effect. City Administrator Bill Waller responded, saying that the project would begin in April or May of 2018 and finish in Spring of 2019.

Public Hearing for Body Cam Policy

Following a brief discussion of planning business, Police Chief Doug Stavenau was on hand to field questions at a public hearing on the draft of La Crecent’s new body cam policy. Scheduled to go into effect in 2018, the policy outlines how the cameras will be used by officers and explains how the data would be managed.

Stavenau said that due to the amount of controversy generated by body cameras, he felt it necessary to give the public a chance to ask questions.

All four squad cars will be outfitted with in-squad video recording equipment which also provides technology to equip an officer with a body camera.

According to the policy, the cams will provide an extra measure of safety for the officers. Body cameras will also be used to document statements and incidents and evaluate training situations.

The policy also states that cameras would be used in motorist stops, vehicle pursuits searches and arrests. The cameras would also find use in physical or verbal confrontations or a crime in progress.

Police officers also have the discretion to turn the cameras off and respect privacy when it appears that privacy outweighs a law enforcement interest.

Data collected as part of an investigation is classified as confidential or non-public data. However, in the case an officer uses force or discharges his weapon during duty, the data becomes public.

Stavenau cautioned that due to the nature of police work, the camera might not document every situation. There will be times when the unit might not be working or positioned correctly, he said.

Speaking in favor of the measure during the hearing, resident Jeremy Chipps felt that using the cameras was a wise thing for the City to do. “I think it protects officers and the City if there’s an issue,” Chipps said.

Stavenau and City Attorney Skip Wieser will present the final draft to Council early next year.

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Coulee Courier and Houston County News editor

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