Developers of a hotel/event center took the first step toward project approval this week as the La Crescent City Council signed a financial planning agreement with Northland Securities, clearing the way for a public hearing on a tax increment financing district and $775,000 worth of help for the project.

A TIF is a method of public financing used as a subsidy for development.

The 53-room nationally franchised hotel will cost more than $5.5 million with the event center running more than $3 million. The city will recover its expenses through taxes generated from the increased market values of the property. The city and the developer will contribute $5,000 each toward the Northland agreement.

Northland will collect data on the TIF district including market values and tax capacity values for all parcels within the district. A public hearing is at 5:30 p.m. Dec. 18.

In conjunction with the project, the city will construct 177 public parking stalls at a cost of $600,000. The city will pay up to $175,000 with the remainder of parking construction assessed to the hotel/event center complex.

2018 tax levy

Council members also passed a resolution that sets the 2018 preliminary levy increase at 6.5 percent, slightly less than the 6.7 percent of 2017. Council members will look at a finalized version of the budget at a Nov. 27 meeting. The new budget includes funding for a Wagon Wheel project and an eighth police officer. City Administrator Bill Waller assured the council that the levy increase will not result in a similar tax increase for property owners due to the amount of construction in the city this year.

Library news

Library Director LaVonne Beach thanked the Council for its support and requested a 10 percent library levy increase, noting spiraling operating costs as well as the increase in services. La Crescent provides almost 69 percent of library revenue. Statistics showed that 70,699 people visited the library in 2016 with 53,227 items checked into circulation. “I think it’s a fair request,” said Council member Dale Williams, who also sits on the Library Board. Williams pointed to the library’s good financial stewardship through a steady repayment of its loan from the city.

Other business

The Council appointed Reid Smith to replace Sue Howe on the Park and Recreation Commission. Ryan Hutchinson was also appointed as council representative to the La Crescent Animal Rescue.

Also approved was a request from the La Crescent Elementary Parent Teacher Organization for street closures for a fun run on Oct. 6. South Sixth Street and South Fourth Street will be barricaded between Oak and Elm from 8:30 to noon.

Council members also approved the final street improvement project for 2018. Next year’s construction will include: Jonathan Lane – just south of Elm Street, North Fourth Street from Crescent Hills Drive to Elm Street, North Third from Hill Street to Elm, Park Street from North Fourth Street to 850 feet north of Fourth Street, Stoney Point Road, Maple Street and the 700 block of Third Street.

In addition, other construction will include South Third Street from Maple Street to Elm Street, Skunk Hollow Road from South 14th Street to Hwy. 25, Oak Street from First to Second, Larch Street from South Seventh Street to South 14th Street.

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