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Fort Dodge stimulus plan deserves support

Proposal crafted by mayor, city staff will help community through tough times

The economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and is likely to linger. Faced with that prospect, Fort Dodge Mayor Matt Bemrich and the city staff have put together a local stimulus package to give commerce a boost.

The City Council will consider three elements of the package Monday evening. We urge the council to approve those items.

The elements on Monday’s agenda are:

• A one-time $25 reduction in utility bills.

• Expanded free parking downtown.

• A 50 percent reduction in building permit fees if certain requirements are met.

Property tax abatements are also part of the proposal. They will be considered at a later date. We call on the council to approve those as well.

As Bemrich correctly noted when explaining the proposal last week, we in Fort Dodge cannot wait for the state and federal governments to solve all the economic problems stemming from the pandemic. The proposal he put forth will not solve all those problems either, but it will provide some help. Every little bit of help adds up to make a difference.

The one-time $25 reduction in the June utility bills is the element of the plan that seems most likely to impact the largest number of residents. No one is going to get rich by keeping an extra $25 for the month. But having that extra cash on hand may be just enough to prompt people to make a purchase they have been putting off, or even to have a family pizza party. And when they do that, they will be supporting local businesses that are employing people.

The free parking may encourage people to come downtown more often and stay longer. And when people come downtown, it gives the businesses there a boost.

The reduction in building permit fees could really jumpstart some projects and have a solid positive impact. Once any kind of building starts, workers are being paid, supplies are being purchased and money is circulating through the economy.

We view this proposal as a good deal for our community. We urge elected officials and the public to support it.

We’re also grateful for the leadership of Mayor Bemrich; City Manager David Fierke; Jeff Nemmers, the city clerk and finance director; and all the others who helped to craft this proposal.

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