A proposal for a new taxing district to help pay for improvements in the retail area of eastern Fort Dodge was unveiled Thursday, and was promptly criticized by some property owners who are opposed to paying another levy.
The plan calls for establishing a Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District to cover an area from about 21st Street to the eastern city limits.
Most property owners there would pay an extra tax of $1 per $1,000 of taxable value. However, Decker Truck Line Inc., 4000 Fifth Ave. S., would pay 25 cents per $1,000 of taxable value.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Dick Sessler, who owns property at Fifth Avenue South and 29th Street, makes a point during the meeting.
Bruce Shimkat, a member of the committee working on the proposal, said the lower rate was proposed for the trucking company because, unlike most of the other businesses in the area, it is not a retailer.
Creation of the district can only be started by property owners who would have to sign petitions asking the City Council to establish it.
The plan was introduced Thursday during an open house at Shimkat Motor Co., 3126 Fifth Ave. S. During that session, Dick Sessler, who owns property at the southeast corner of Fifth Avenue South and 29th Street, emerged as an immediate and vocal critic of the plan.
''Don't you think we've paid enough?'' he asked Shimkat and other committee members. ''We're always getting drilled with something.''
He said the tax increase will cut into the bottom line of businesses in the district.
Noting that some of the tax money collected in the district would be used for landscaping, Sessler said he didn't want to pay for ''a pot and a flower that I don't like anyway.''
He also expressed skepticism that the downtown Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District has done any good.
''They have not changed downtown,'' he said.
While Sessler and other critics had their say, Shimkat said that by the time the two-hour session ended he had heard more questions than complaints.
''This is the first time most people have been exposed to this,'' he said.
He said a committee of property owners has been working on the proposal for about six months. He added that the idea originated with the property owners, not the city government.
The proposed entity would be called the Commerce Self-Supported Municipal Improvement District.
It would be bordered by 21st Street on the west, Second Avenue North to the north, the eastern city limits and Seventh Avenue South to the south.
Fort Dodge Memorial Park Cemetery at Fifth Avenue South and 32nd Street; New Covenant Christian Church, 3318 Fifth Ave. S.; and agricultural land within the district would be exempt from the taxes.
About $110,000 a year would be generated by the extra taxes paid by property owners in the district. That money could only be spent within the district.
According to Shimkat, that money would used for these priorities:
Expansion of streetscaping and corridor improvements
Attracting new businesses
Long-term capital improvements
Supporting existing businesses
Shimkat said the money would be controlled by a district board of directors which would make recommendations to the City Council. The council, he said, could not spend any district money unless the board approved it first.
The petitions seeking the establishment of the district would have to be signed by at least 25 percent of the property owners who represent at least 25 percent of the property value there.
Another public meeting on the proposal will be held May 31 at Fort Dodge Ford Lincoln Toyota, 2723 Fifth Ave. S.
Contact Bill Shea at (515) 573-2141 or firstname.lastname@example.org