MCBD asks for your tax dollars

MCBD – Marshalltown Central Business District petitioned the City Council to give $40,000 in grant money, previously earmarked for facade upgrades, to their organization for “operational expenses.” Operational expenses like wages. The MCBD is a non-profit 501c6 organization, just like the Chamber of Commerce. These organizations are “lobbyists” for groups of business owners (aka the group’s “members”). The members pay dues to belong to this group. The dues are supposed to pay the operating expenses and support the organizations lobbying activities. The MCBD’s chief lobbying activity is to entice the city to set aside grant money for facade upgrades on downtown buildings. Said grants would then improve property values and return money to the city in the form of increased property taxes. The tornado has damaged many of the buildings and their facades. Insurance money will pay the business owners to rebuild their buildings and facades; therefore, the city no longer needs to provide grant money for this activity. The city on the other hand has a problem with its budget – such a big problem that they needed to keep the $480,000 of property tax money related to the new 911 Emergency Management Commission rather than return it to the taxpayer as the County did. Numerous damaged properties, both commercial and residential, in the tornado’s path may not be rebuilt. This will result in lower property tax revenues over the next few years, negatively impacting the city’s budget. The city does not have one extra penny to give away to a non-profit organization. The MCBD is a specialized Chamber of Commerce organization focused on historical restoration of Main Street businesses. The City has already funded MCBD with $26K in operational funds. Both these funds and the $40K in grant money, which they now want for operations, were borrowed from future property tax revenues of all properties in the downtown TIF district. Essentially every property owner in the downtown is paying for MCBD to exist whether they receive member benefits or not. The tax payers of the city of Marshalltown do not need to fund a private non-profit, member financed, lobbying organization. The City needs every spare penny for its own operations. The City Council should NOT approve this request of the MCBD.