Candidate hopes to pay debt through Iowa River Landing


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As debate continues over the state of Coralville’s debt, one City Council incumbent hopes to dismiss rumors about the city mishandling its financial obligations.

First-term Coralville Councilor Bill Hoeft wants to move forward with the controversial 180-acre Iowa River Landing as the primary way to deal with the city’s current debt problems.

“I’m dispelling a lot of myths about TIF, ideas saying we don’t have a plan about TIF, and myths about transparency” Hoeft said. “I’m trying to let people know the facts about a lot of misinformation out there.”

Moody’s Investors Service lowered a number of bond ratings for the city in a report on June 7, furthering a several-year pattern.

In the report, Moody’s outlined that the city needs to cut its nearly $279 million outstanding debt obligations — the third highest in the state as of last June.

“We knew when taking on a project like the Iowa River Landing, when we develop a plan, you address a lot of issues,” Hoeft said. “When you address the debt, the best way to address it is make the Iowa River Landing as successful as possible, as quickly as possible.”

As construction in the mixed-use development continues, Hoeft believes that more businesses in that area will help the city pay its debt.

Even in the face of several local opposition groups tied to TIF quarrels, he maintained that the city of roughly 20,000 residents is on the right financial footing.

In recent months, Iowa’s chapter of Americans for Prosperity and Coralville’s Citizens for Responsible Growth and Taxation have cried foul about municipal spending.

“It’s not a crisis; we are within our debt limit,” he said.

Coralville Mayor Jim Fausett said his views align with Hoeft’s campaign.

“I think he’s right on,” Fausett said. “The Iowa River Landing is a tremendous help in relation to the debt. I hope the council will keep our current economic development and continue in the direction we’ve been in.”

Still, one local real-estate agent, not in agreement with Hoeft’s platform, isn’t sold on the council’s current practices.

Gerry Ambrose of Ambrose and Boyd Realtors has called the idea of offering businesses incentives to relocate to the Iowa River Landing improper actions.

“I’m 100 percent against that,” he said. “They’re forcing a market that doesn’t exist there. You can’t force by soliciting tenants to that area.”

Despite evident backlash, one Iowa River Landing business believes that its venture will thrive with more traffic in the area.

“For us, anything happening in the area is good,” said Andy Diep, the owner of Konomi. “The more things happening, the better. The more traffic the better.”

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