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Bettendorf is growing with new projects, new construction as well as more people. And the city continues to be on solid financial ground. Those were the key messages Bettendorf Mayor Bob Gallagher offered Wednesday, March 9, during his 2022 State of the City Address at the Waterfront Convention Center. During the hour-long address, which drew about 200 business and community leaders as well as residents to the convention center, Mr. Gallagher reviewed some of the major accomplishments and events from last year, and provided a preview of projects to come later this year in Bettendorf. “There’s all kinds of cool stuff coming to Bettendorf,” the mayor told the crowd. He added that one of the top “cool” projects in the city is the recently announced expansion of the TBK Bank Sports Complex on the north side of the city. The mayor added that the project, which has been many years in the planning and unveiled last month, will be at least a $75 million expansion that will bring more ballfields, a three-level golf entertainment facility, a new hotel and much more to an area near the TBK Bank Sports Complex. Construction is expected to begin on April 1 and scheduled to be complete at the end of 2023. “This is going to be a great gateway into the Quad Cities,” he added. After his address, the mayor told the QCBJ that the central message he hopes people get is: “Bettendorf is a healthy, growing community thanks to our great staff and many partners.” Citing 2020 U.S. Census figures, he said Bettendorf’s population has grown almost 18% since 2010 to 39,102. Mr. Gallagher told the luncheon crowd that he hopes improvements such as the TBK Bank Sports Complex expansion will help attract more tourists to the city – and perhaps bring in more permanent residents to fill vacant jobs and keep Bettendorf growing. Last year, the city – and the entire Quad Cities region – celebrated the opening of the new Interstate 74 bridge. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held Dec. 1 to mark the opening. The mayor said that in conjunction with the new bridge, a new bike/pedestrian path is expected to open this spring. Also, the Iowa Department of Transportation is expected to select a contractor this spring or summer to demolish the old I-74 bridge, he said. But Mr. Gallagher added that he also is pleased to see more in-person celebrations scheduled in the coming weeks. “We’re excited about the return of events and festivals to the city” after an era of virtual events or events canceled by the pandemic, the mayor added. He promoted the city’s upcoming Zip Code Celebration and urged all to get involved. The city’s zip code – 52722 – aligns with the calendar date 5/27/22. Groups such as the Downtown Bettendorf Organization, Bettendorf Business Network and other businesses and groups are making plans for a celebration on May 27. That day is the Friday before the Memorial Day weekend, and is expected to be the opening event to more festivities and events over the holiday weekend. The celebration will wrap up with the Be Downtown event on Saturday, June 4. Mr. Gallagher said those celebrations, expansion projects and other improvements are helping achieve five goals: Financially sound city providing quality city services; orderly growth and quality development; growing current businesses and attracting new businesses; riverfront/downtown development; destination for entertainment and living; and a premier place to live in the Quad Cities. The mayor added he has had these same five goals in place since he came to office. Much of Wednesday’s State of the City was devoted to thanking city staff and council members for their work, and providing updates on various city departments. Some of the city departments’ developments and highlights included:
- Fire department: Two career personnel received promotions to fill vacancies. Also, as of April 18, 2021, two firefighters per shift have been assigned to Surrey Heights Fire Station giving it coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Police department: Increased personnel the past two fiscal years for a total hike of six officers to the Patrol Division bringing it to 51 officers. The department continues to transition the patrol fleet vehicles to hybrid vehicles. It also has equipped all vehicles with automated external defibrillators through a state grant at no cost to the city.
- Community Development: More than 5,500 permits issued; more than 7,700 inspections completed; and more than 400 rental units inspected.
- Budget highlights: Levy rates for FY 2022-23 budget were reduced 15 cents from $12.80 to $12.65 per $1,000 assessed value. Taxes on existing homes are up less than 1%. Sanitary sewer rate will increase 4% as of April 1. The storm sewer rate fee will rise 20 cents as of April 1.
- Taxes: At a $5.67 general fund levy rate, the city has the second lowest rate among 38 Iowa cities with populations over 10,000. Also, Bettendorf is one of seven cities with a General Fund levy rate under the state’s cap of $8.10. “We do more with less than any other city in Iowa,” the mayor said.
- Family Museum: For the second year, the museum became a certified autism center. It will host the traveling exhibit “Thomas the Train & Friends” this summer.
- Bettendorf Public Library: The library will open the newly renovated Creation Studio. Staff is planning for the return of the Summer Concert Series, Summer Reading Program and Discovery Fair this year.
- Parks and Recreation: The Forge opened at Palmer Hills Golf Course, which saw revenues increase $30,000 last year over the prior year. The city also is looking at opening a new outdoor swimming pool in the next two years to replace the aging Splash Landing.