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City to request LMI percentage be lowered

Published: Thursday, April 3, 2014 1:03 p.m. CDT • Updated: Thursday, April 3, 2014 1:04 p.m. CDT

Financial discussions about the proposed condominium project in the Cottonwood Subdivision continued Tuesday evening.

Atlantic private developer Don Sonntag traveled from Atlantic to Creston to meet with the council in person. The financial discusson centered on the low-to-moderate income (LMI) percentage for this project.

Currently, when bonding for a project like Sonntag’s — the state requires 43 percent of the tax revenue generated from the properties to be set aside for LMI projects. That percentage — based on population — is different for every county in Iowa.

However, city officials said Tuesday they plan to complete a waiver request for the LMI percentage be lowered so that more of the tax revenue generated from Sonntag’s condominium properties in the Cottonwood Subdivision can go directly toward paying off the debt service for the condo project.

This would be better for the Creston taxpayers because the debt service for the project would be paid off more quickly.

The city was successful in this waiver process in the late 1990s with the James Addition when LMI was reduced from 38 to 25 percent.

“It’s something we can do,” said Tim Ostroski, executive director for Southern Iowa Council of Governments (SICOG). “But, I’m not aware of anyone who has went through the process in the past 10 years.”

Ostroski did warn city officials Tuesday this process could take months. He must fully complete the waiver, which will take time. Then, the waiver will need to be reviewed by the state — which best-case scenario — would take 30 days.

Ostroski added there are several other moving parts to this project that will take time to iron out.

“I signaled to the council it could be four months before they have all the information needed (to make a vote),” Ostroski said.

In other city council news:

• The council approved the purchase of a new Elgin Pelican street sweeper for $154,371. It was a budgeted item.

Mike Taylor, city administrator, said the sweeper — which has a John Deere engine — actually came in under budget. The current sweeper is about 10 years old. “This new sweeper should last us the same period of time,” Taylor said. “We should get 10 to 15 years out of this thing.”

• Preliminary discussions between Atlantic private developer Don Sonntag and the council were held about building low-to-moderate income housing in other areas of Creston away from the Cottonwood Subdivision.

• Loyal Winborn, ward 2 city councilman, reminded the public that April is “Light It Up Blue” month for autism awareness. “If you want to put some blue porch lights up or some blue Christmas lights up, I know families in town would appreciate that,” Winborn said.

• Boy Scouts Troop 129 members, including Brenton Barber, Dylan Anson and Keirnan Norton led the pledge of allegiance before Tuesday’s city council meeting.

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