SSMID moves ahead

Oct. 9 hearing and action date

Self-Supporting Municipal Improvement District opponents and proponents will have three weeks to prepare their cases.

At Monday night’s council meeting, Marshalltown City Councilors voted 6-1 to approve a resolution setting 5:30 p.m. Oct. 9, as a hearing and action date for the highly controversial measure.

Voting yes were First Ward’s Dan Kester, Third Ward Councilor Mike Gowdy, Second Ward’s Joel Greer, Fourth Ward’s Al Hoop, and At-Large Councilors Bill Martin and Bethany Wirin. At-Large Leon Lamer voted no.

SSMID is a self-imposed levy upon commercial and industrial property taxable value within a district. The issue before the council is to establish a district downtown which would include 263 property owners, a mix of businesses, churches, and not-for-profit organizations.

Should the SSMID be approved by council, selected downtown property owners would then be subjected to a special levy which would be added to their overall cost of doing business.

For example, banks and retailers would pay the levy, while churches and not-for-businesses would not.

The funds collected from the levy are restricted to improving the business and cultural environment of a specific district, in this case downtown.

Council chambers were nearly full again for the second consecutive city council meeting as many SSMID opponents and proponents were ready to debate again, as they did at the Sept. 7 Planning & Zoning Commission meeting and the Aug. 28 council meeting.

But they will have to wait to make remarks at the Oct. 9, meeting said Mayor Jim Lowrance to the audience.

However, after several other agenda items were resolved, David Thompson, owner of Thompson’s True Value

and a SSMID opponent, asked Lowrance to allow the audience to comment publicly on the issue.

He said Lowrance had the authority to adjust the meeting agenda to allow discussion.

“You are losing the crowd,” Thompson said in reference to people interested in SSMID who had already left the meeting.

Lowrance said again SSMID-related discussion would have to wait until Oct. 9.

Thompson and SSMID opponent Jonathan Hull, owner-operator of Willard’s Furs and Fashion waited until public discussion — the last item on the agenda.

Lowrance said only questions regarding SSMID would be allowed.

He reiterated commentary would have to wait until Oct.. 9.

Hull used the opportunity to present a petition listing 40 percent of owners in the district who object to SSMID.

He claimed that was sufficient to allow the council from enacting SSMID.

He also presented a letter from Stepping Stones bookstore owner Mindy Van Dyke had previously presented a letter in opposition to Spohnheimer.

The letter said the levy’s extra cost would be an added financial burden to her business, and urged the CBD to conduct more effective fundraising.

Thompson then questioned City Administrator Jessica Kinser on SSMID policy that she had discussed at the Aug. 28 meeting, specifically obtained from attorney Robert Josten in Des Moines.

Thompson said at the Planning & Zoning meeting that it was unfair that one particular property owned in the SSMID area owned by five individuals allows them five votes on the measure, while he has only one vote.

Kinser said she would email a response to Thompson.

At the conclusion of the exchange between Kinser and Thompson Lowranc addressed the crowd concerning the Oct. 9 meeting.

“I understand emotions were running high at the Sept. 7 Planning & Zoning Commission meeting,” he said.

“We are all friends and associates, in some cases, many years. Let us remember that Oct. 9, and keep emotions in check. The state is limiting the council what it can, and can not do.”

9/11 Remembrance

With his voice at times cracking from emotion, Marshalltown Fire Chief David Rierson spoke about the 16th anniversary of the terrorist attack in New York City, which resulted in the deaths of 2,997 Americans, and total destruction of the World Trade Center and many nearby buildings.

“403 emergency responders — firemen, police and Port Authority officials — gave their lives that day … it reminds us all in this business who have sworn to protect our fellow citizens we could be put in harms way at any given time on any given day,” he said.

Rierson poignant remarks were highlighted in his citing the exact time of day two planes crashed in the WTC, the Pentagon, and in a Pennsylvania field.

“At 8:45 a.m. one passenger jet hit the near the 80th floor of the north tower … 18 minutes later another passenger jet hit near the 60th floor of the south tower. Both killed hundreds instantly and trapped thousands of others.”

A moment of silence was held for all who perished.

In other action:

— Kristin Allman of the local Sister Cities program asked the council for $2,000 to facilitate a friendship-based program between Marshalltown and a Japanese city. Two students who participated also reported to the council.

Council will take up her request during budget discussions in January, 2018.

— The council approved by 7-0 vote a request from Marshall Economic Development’s Tom Deimerly to facilitate a housing study necessary to replace one done three years ago. Deimerly said he has secured nearly $4,000 from private businesses.

— Approved new liquor license for Manhana Ventures, LLC, dba as Calvin Rockett. New owner is Dave Mattox. He said his son Grant Mattox will manage day-to-day activities.

The next regular meeting of the city council is 5:30 p.m. Sept. 25, in council chambers, Carnegie Building, 10 W. State St. For more information, contact 641-754-5701, or visit ci.marshalltown.ia.us.

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Contact Mike Donahey at 641-753-6611 or mdonahey@timesrepublican.com