(The following Letter to the Editor has been submitted by Scott Carlson of Decorah):
"A recent letter about HyVee wondered how to ensure that the Decorah City Council won't screw this one up too, and I am in agreement. Case in point– related comments from our city council. One member expresses concern about the impact on downtown. Huh? This request is to modernize an existing structure for the same type of business. This tired argument was made against Walmart and we have benefited (and the downtown improved). A second member wondered if we are "picking a winner" by offering incentives.Denying incentives to one business while providing incentives to another business is exactly that – the council is picking a winner. A third member is "not necessarily opposed", which means he mostly is. Only our mayor seems to understand the importance of an expanded tax base, (along with Randy Schissel, who depicts how our city council approaches outside businesses).
The Quillin's space represents an excellent use of incentives: 1) we aren't prostituting ourselves – incentives are commonly used to attract/support/sustain businesses; 2) the building is badly in need of revitalization, and given the cost it is doubtful these upgrades will occur in the foreseeable future; 3) the incentive request is on scale with earlier awards; 4) the incentives have zero negative impact on current tax proceeds; 5) perhaps this would help to draw additional business to that area. To expect someone to magically foot the bill for the $3M renovation with no assistance is unrealistic (the last time I heard such nonsense was, oh wait, Menards). Forecasts of changing demographics make strengthening our tax base more critical so that the city can thrive, and it's time for the city to reverse its protectionist mentality and take advantage of this opportunity. It is also time for us to demand more long term vision from our council."