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Calls for Toledo area residents to attend city council meetings
January 17, 2018

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Letter to the Editor:

If you had the choice between getting $45,000 today or getting $1 million in 10 years - and every year after - what would you choose?

This question is the very scenario that sits before your Toledo City Council. I believe that by waiting for 1 million dollars, we can greatly improve our city.

As a former member of the Toledo City Council, I've heard your concerns. You want better roads. You want water lines that don't burst. You want more jobs and housing. My family wants this, too. And we finally have a way to accomplish this. Which is why I'm asking you to attend the next city council meeting to show your support for a proposed project that will greatly improve our community.

First, some background. As we all know, the state-owned Iowa Juvenile Home has sat vacant in the middle of Toledo for three years. Hobart Historic Restoration (HHR) (www.hobarthistoricrestoration.com) is interested in developing the 27-acre site. The site plans HHR has shared with the Toledo City Council include: 1) converting the current school on the property to a senior living memory care facility (there is currently a significant shortage of senior living memory care in Iowa); 2) converting the existing cottages to assisted senior living; and 3) building new apartments, condos, single family homes, and high-end homes on the rest of the property.

To accomplish this, HHR has requested that the city of Toledo gift 4 acres of city-owned land adjoining the south side of the Iowa Juvenile Home property. By gifting this currently unused property, HHR would have additional incentive to choose Toledo as a place to invest in. Keep in mind, HHR has opportunities to invest their time and money in other communities. Our gift would incentivize HHR to improve our community.

So what does this mean for you? In the short-term, admittedly, not much. But we must take the long view. Conservatively, it's estimated that the city of Toledo would in 10 years receive more than one million dollars annually in additional property taxes. For a community of our size, this adds roughly 1/3 of our current tax base. In addition to this tax boost, it would provide local jobs and could single-handedly solve the desperate housing need in the area.

But there's one problem. As of now, your Toledo City Council is unwilling to gift this property to HHR. They would rather sell it for the $45,000 that the city paid for it. Keep in mind, this $45,000 investment was made using hotel-motel tax money (i.e., your property taxes didn't pay for this investment).

I'm concerned that seeking to sell the 4 acres that the city owns to HHR for $45,000 instead of gifting it as an incentive could sour the city's relationship with HHR and result in zero increases in tax dollars, zero jobs created, and zero homes for people in our community- now and in the future.

Gifting the property as an incentive would help the HHR project move forward in our community. Should we not offer this incentive, HHR may take their money and invest elsewhere. And in 10 years, we will see how their investment benefited another Iowa community with more tax dollars, more housing, and more jobs.

It's a small present in the present, with significant payback in 10 years.

Right now, we can't fix our streets. We can keep patching water line breaks, but we can't fix the problem. We simply do not and will not have the money to do so. Imagine how far a million dollars or more a year would go to help us improve our community.

You have a choice. Please, don't be swayed by those who say we don't have the authority to gift this property. We can make this work.

Please voice your support of the Hobart Historic Renovation project by attending city council meetings. Council meets on the second and fourth Mondays of the month in the Toledo Reinig Center, at 6:00 p.m. Hobart Historic Renovation will be present at the January 22nd council meeting. If you're unable to attend and wish to share your support, send me an email at:

mullentravis@gmail.com.

I look forward to seeing you there.

Travis Mullen

Toledo

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