By Mike Thayer
CORALVILLE, IA. -- Continuing to play games with taxpayer money, the city of Coralville voted 3-1 approving a contract change authorizing the city to "buy back" the Von Maur store.
The change is a legal manuever to get around a possible court ruling. A judge has yet to decide if the incentives the city has given to Von Maur are illegal. A group of area businessmen and property owners filed a lawsuit against the city's *deal* with Von Maur using taxpayer money and an out-of-state developer. The key point: The city plans to give about 14 million taxpayer dollars worth of incentives to Von Maur; provide 1.5 million taxpayer dollars in the form of a "grant" to California based developer OliverMcMillan to purchase 7.5 acres of *city owned* land in the Iowa River Landing; OliverMcMillan then turns around and sells that land to Von Maur for $10.
The city's manuever of taking *ownership* of the store would apparently allow construction to begin in the Iowa River Landing while the legal battle between the city of Coralville and local business leaders goes through the court system.
The only council member to vote against the "buy the store" contract change was Jill Dodds. John Lundell was absent. So Mitch Gross, Bill Hoeft and Tom Gill voted to approve the government takeover.
Government ownership of a retail store....... That's not a proper role of government and the city of Coralville continues to look for ways to abuse TIF law.