City approves funding for new business

There was no new news Monday night concerning construction of a regional warehouse and distribution facility in Clear Lake for a Fortune 100 company. However, Clear Lake city leaders continue to lay the groundwork for announcement of a new business which would provide 164 full-time jobs with minimum average annual salaries of $39,000, by no later than Oct. 1, 2018. 

The City Council conducted a public hearing Monday night on a proposed General Obligation Economic Development Loan Agreement with Windmill Realty, LLC for development project in the Larry Luker Memorial Industrial Park.  Windmill Realty, LLC has been identified as an interim “placeholder” for the ultimate occupant and owner of the facility.  Upon completion of a 340,000 square foot warehouse and distribution facility, the parent company’s identity will be publicly released and Windmill Realty, LLC will be dissolved.

Terms of the Development Agreement call for a new minimum property tax base to be created of not less than $12 million. Estimated total capital investment is $65 million. The Development Agreement also imposes employment requirements.  Total annual payroll shall not be less than $6.5 million by October 2018.

During the public hearing for the development agreement, resident Peter Lagios expressed his concern that the public is committing a large sum of money without knowing the identity of the business.  

A pair of local business leaders encouraged the Council to pass the agreement.

“I don’t know of any project to have this kind of impact on North Iowa,” said Randy Cram, past president of the North Iowa Economic Development Corridor.  “We elected you to use your good judgement and believe that you will.”

Clear Lake Bank and Trust President Mark Hewitt called the potential development’s confidentiality understandable and said he considers it a “once in a lifetime opportunity.” 

“It’s a slam dunk,” Hewitt told the Council.  He added that the bank is so committed to the project that it has been in discussion with underwriters to potentially buy the entire bond issue of $1.62 million.


Budget wrap-up

In other business Monday night, the Council held a public hearing and then adopted its fiscal year 2015 budget. 

City Administrator Scott Flory noted that for the fourth consecutive year the city’s tax rate will remain unchanged at $10.54 per $1,000 of taxable valuation.  The city imposed a 50-cent tax raise per $1,000 of taxable valuation in fiscal year 2012 as the result of the voter ­approved $2.3 million general obligation bond referendum for the fire station building project.  Prior to that, the tax rate had remained unchanged at $10.04 per $1,000 of taxable valuation for five consecutive fiscal years.

Clear Lake features one of the lowest tax rates in Iowa for

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