WIUM Tristates Public Radio

Sports Complex Funding Deal

Apr 24, 2012

It appears Lee County has come up with a way to contribute to a proposed sports complex in Fort Madison without using taxpayer money.

The county is being asked to provide a total of $25,000 over the next five years to the $3.4-million dollar project.  The Vision Iowa Board has said without that contribution, Fort Madison will not receive any state funding.

The Lee County Board of Supervisors has rejected previous requests for that much money, but Supervisor Larry Kruse believes a compromise has been reached.

Kruse wants the county to create a special fund that residents could donate to specifically for the sports complex.  He says that would allow the county to provide funding while staying fiscally disciplined by not using taxpayer revenue.

Kruse even made a verbal pledge of $500 to kick-start the fund.

“That is my personal donation, not tax money,” says Kruse, “my opposition is not to the project.  It is to the county taking tax money and putting it to this type of project.”

Supervisor Rick Larkin followed up Kruse’s pledge with one of his own for $1,000.  Larkin says he and his wife have already pledged $1,000 to the project.

Supervisors Janet Fife-LaFrenz and Gary Folluo did not announce that they would be making a donation to the proposed fund.  Supervisor Ernie Schiller was not at the meeting due to a family issue.

Kruse says this fund could also be used beyond the sports complex.  He says it could benefit organizations like the Lee County Fair Board, which has not received county funding in recent years.

There are plenty of questions, though, surrounding the county’s plan and the fund in general.

It’s unclear whether there would be any tax benefit for people to donate to the county versus donating directly to the sports complex committee.  The impact on local foundations is also unknown at this time.

Kruse, at first, said he would like to wait until the $25,000 for the sports complex is raised before officially approving the creation of the donation fund.  Gary Folluo says it should be approved as soon as possible so people know what they are donating to.

The supervisors could vote on the fund as early as its first meeting in May.

Organizers have already raised more than $2.5-million dollars.  The next meeting of the Vision Iowa Board is in mid-May.