The question for city staff was, how can the city of Oelwein contribute $500,000 toward turning an empty downtown building into an events center?
City Administrator Dylan Mulfinger presented a five-year draft plan to the City Council ahead of its workshop meeting on Tuesday to try and answer that. It would redirect tax money currently used for such things as economic development, housing improvement efforts, library accreditation and more. It also would ask the Oelwein Community Schools to forego $140,000 over four years.
The plan calls for using $340,000 in economic development funding derived from the local option sales tax over five years.
“Local option sales tax is the current driver for housing improvements and planning economic development,” Mulfinger wrote. “Below is a short list of expenditures:
“• $50,000 Oelwein Chamber and Development
“• $45,000 Abatement (Code enforcement officer)
“• $35,000 Oelwein Regional Tech Complex (Tec Spec)
• $35,000 Library Accreditation
“• $25,000 Residential tear down grant
“• $65,000 Junk house removal
“• $15,000 Fayette County Housing Trust Fund
“• $15,000 CDBG Housing Grant
“• $25,000 Wellness Center Loss.”
The city would also need to cease other contributions.
“The City would need to pull back funding from the Fayette County Fair or other hotel motel tax participants to fund a four-year commitment to the center,” Mulfinger wrote. “The Fayette County Fair is operating at a profit and no longer is eligible for the funds. This event center could become a major draw for hotel motel stays.”
A follow-up question that the City Council will need to answer is should the city do it?
“If the city provides funding for this project, this will be one of the largest investments in the downtown in several years,” Mulfinger wrote in his memo to the council about the funding option. “This will increase professional traffic during the week and visitors during the weekend. Oelwein will have a great downtown amenity that will help several businesses in town.”
The plan also includes pulling from city reserves.
The Oelwein Events Center Corporate Board, governs the nonprofit that is trying to raise more than $3 million for the events center. It also asked the Fayette County Board of Supervisors for a $500,000 contribution.