Dysart Council talks TIF, lagoon project price increase

Debt service relief fee approved for vacant houses

Dysart’s annual TIF (Tax Increment Financing) report was top of agenda during the regular November meeting of the Dysart City Council last Wednesday, November 10.

Maggie Burger with Speer Financial was in attendance to report to the council and Mayor Tim Glenn on the city’s current debt obligations, TIF rebate agreements, and options for the future.

TIF is often the only source of funds for cities to use to further economic development in TIF districts. In July of this year, the city entered into a housing development agreement with KD Investments, LLC which includes annual TIF rebates. The LLC’s registered agent is Dan Hatch of Hatch Grading & Contracting, Inc., the company working on the Westview Estates housing development.

“You have entered into an agreement with a developer, they are going to do something to increase the incremental valuation in your TIF district and you are going to rebate back a portion of the taxes on that increment,” Speer explained to the council. “In a housing [TIF agreement], remember the developer is there putting in the infrastructure and you’re able to rebate back up against that cost of infrastructure.”

Speer said the agreement with KD Investments has a not-to-exceed rebate number of $275,000. The first year the city is set to rebate back a payment to the developer is slated for 2025.

After wrapping up her report, Mayor Glenn asked Speer about future TIF projects.

“In a couple of years your debt goes away on the [general obligation] side of things,” Speer responded. “If there’s something to the tune of $30-$40,000 a year that needs to be done in your TIF area … now would be the time to start thinking about it … if that’s talking with your engineer, if that’s looking at road projects, things like that, simple things that can be paid for with TIF, that’s the way to do it,”

Following Speer’s report, a resolution to approve Dysart’s TIF Debt Certification for fiscal year 2022/23 was adopted.

Lagoon reconstruction and sewer debt fees discussed, amendment approved

City Clerk Tabby Kaiser told the council the DNR permit for the city lagoon reconstruction project was recently approved following an almost year long wait. There has been a materials price increase of about 30 percent in the interim which now puts the project’s price tag close to $5 million. The project’s bid release date is planned for early December.

Back in March, the council agreed to apply a $32 sewer debt relief fee to resident utility bills to aid in the lagoon project’s funding.

During the October meeting, the council also discussed charging the $32 fee to inactive customers with an uncapped sewer line.

An amendment to the sewer utility ordinance to change the customer definition to include inactive sewer accounts was addressed during Wednesday night’s meeting under old business.

Prior to voting on the amendment, Dysart resident and business owner Bickkam Cam asked the council why the charge was being applied to inactive customers.

“That sewer is there for them for use in the future. So if they want to use our new lagoon system, they need to help pay for the debt on that,” Kaiser said.

“We’re not the only city that does this,” council member Stacey Dabney said. “We’re actually one of the few [that does not].”

“Whether they have an active sewer line or not, there’s a service there,” Mayor Glenn said.

“Are we not making enough for the properties we are charging the $32 on already?” Cam asked.

“No. No, we’re not even close [to the lagoon reconstruction project price tag],” Mayor Glenn responded. “It’s just so everybody participates in having to build that lagoon system. That’s why we do it.”

Following a lengthy discussion between the council, the mayor, and members of the public in attendance including Cam, a motion to introduce and place the sewer utility amendment on file was approved; a motion to waive the three separate readings of the amendment was approved; the amendment was then adopted unanimously by the council with council member Taylor Gingrich absent.

The new charge will be applied on December 15, 2021, to inactive customers, Kaiser said, and be included on January bills. If the fee is not paid, the bill will be sent to the Tama County Auditor and the charges become part of the customer’s next property tax bill.

Kaiser estimated the new sewer debt relief fee will apply to less than 20 vacant houses.

In other business

Under the consent agenda, an additional driver for Dysart Ambulance — Ken Midyett — was approved, as well as two new members of the Dysart Fire Department — Brandon Gage and Taylor Riggins. The cigarette permit for the new Dollar General being built on Hwy 21 was also approved.

Under the Mayor’s Report, the new light bulbs installed on Main Street by Public Works Superintendent Shawn Fisher were discussed with both the mayor and the council agreeing the lights were a definite improvement in terms of increased brightness. Mayor Glenn also highlighted the fact Dysart Ambulance continues to be in dire need of drivers — the mayor himself drives on Mondays. The lifting required of drivers is much easier now, the mayor said, due to the addition of power cots.

The council approved hiring Dave Schneider as the new public works employee to replace Jamie Kane who resigned in October. There were three applicants for the position with two interviews conducted. Public Works Superintendent Fisher was part of the hiring process. Schneider is currently an agronomy applicator with Tama-Benton Cooperative. The pay rate was set at $20 per hour for the position. Council member Mary Wankowicz discussed the need for a possible third public works employee especially once the lagoon project begins. The council and the mayor agreed to consider a possible third public works hire in the future.