Citing the future tax gains compared to the current costs, the Page County Board of Supervisors voted 2-1 Aug. 31 to abate the taxes due on the new Clarinda City Hall and the pocket park adjacent to the facility.
The former main office of Bank Iowa, the building at 101 N. 15th St., and the small parcel of land to the north, was gifted to the city of Clarinda when the bank started construction of its new office at the corner of 16th and Main Streets in Clarinda. However, the 2020 taxes on the properties were in question.
“It’s not clear cut and it’s extremely unusual,” Supervisor Chairperson Chuck Morris said.
However, Bank Iowa Regional President Gilbert Thomas spoke with the board Sept. 7. Gilbert clarrified the bank had paid the taxes due on the properties up until the point they were deeded to the city.
Clarinda City Manager Gary McClarnon attended the Aug. 31 meeting remotely to discuss the abatements.
Typically, Morris said, the seller brings the taxes up to date prior to the property being transferred. However, since this was a given as a gift, there was no sale involved.
Morris said the city would receive 51% of the tax revenue, or approximately $9,000, so that portion could easily be written off. However, the Clarinda Community School District was to receive approximately $4,900 and Page County would receive $2,400 in tax revenue for its General Basic Fund.
“Whichever way this board goes, there’s potential for somebody saying it’s the wrong call. I think there are probably two right answers here to be honest with you,” Morris said.
Since acquiring the building, McClarnon said $98,000 had been invested in the facility by the city to convert it into the new City Hall. In addition, the city has leased 1,500 square feet of the building to Farm Bureau Financial Services and has also leased the 2,500 square foot building that previously served as City Hall. McClarnon said there would be future tax revenues from those buildings.
“So, even though we’re asking for you to abate these taxes, there are going to be some future revenues that come. Plus, Bank Iowa, right now, their assessed value of their new building is $2.1 million. So that is something else you’re going to see as far as future revenue goes,” McClarnon said.
“I’m very appreciative of the investment Bank Iowa has made and improvements you’ve made. So, that goes without saying. That should be applauded not penalized,” Morris said.
McClarnon also noted that the trade class at Clarinda High School assisted with the construction of the cabinets installed at the new City Hall building.
“The school was very supportive in this project,” McClarnon said. “It was really a joint operation between us and the school on doing some of the remodel work. So, I do know they’re very supportive of this project as well.”
Supervisor Alan Armstrong said he also appreciated the substantial investment Bank Iowa made in the future of Clarinda and Page County. He said Bank Iowa went from paying $15,000 in property taxes for the building now serving as City Hall to paying almost $41,000 in taxes for its new building.
“The area has gained a tremendous amount by Bank Iowa’s investment in this community and the school district and everything else,” Armstrong said. “It’s a good investment for our community.”
Supervisor Jacob Holmes cast the lone vote against abating the taxes on the City Hall building. Holmes said he was concerned about the appearance of an entity that collects taxes asking to have its own taxes abated.
“I just wonder that these are people who collect and then ask for abatement. Everybody would like to have their taxes abated. It’s a one-year deal, so that’s why I voted nay,” Holmes said.
The second tax abatement requested by the city of Clarinda was for the small piece of land north of City Hall that was converted into a pocket park for the community. There was only $216 in taxes due on that land.
Therefore, the board voted unanimously to abate those taxes.