Originally Posted Online: Dec. 18, 2012, 10:24 pm
Last Updated: Dec. 18, 2012, 11:13 pm

RI County abates property taxes for planned BHC housing

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By Eric Timmons, etimmons@qconline.com

The Rock Island County Board has approved an agreement to not levy property taxes on a proposed $6.5 million student housing development at Black Hawk College for the next five years.

The 42-unit, 120-bed development on the Moline Black Hawk College campus would be built by Bluffstone LLC, a Bettendorf company that would lease land from the Black Hawk College Foundation.State statutes prohibit community colleges from operating student housing.

On Tuesday, the county board approved the property tax abatement, valued at an estimated $86,000 by a 23-0 vote, with Rock Island County Board member Don Johnston, D-Moline, abstaining.The agreement would abate property taxes for five years.

After that, Bluffstone would pay 20 percent of its tax bill the following year, rising to 40, 60, 80 and finally 100 percent the following four years.

Bluffstone is seeking similar agreements from the Moline School District, the city of Moline and Black Hawk trustees, according to Bluffstone co-owner Tim Baldwin. If successful, the total value of the tax abatement would reach an estimated $665,000.

Because the land on which the development would be built is part of the Black Hawk campus, it is tax exempt and does not generate any revenue for the taxing bodies, Mr. Baldwin said.

"Where we have nothing, we'll have something," Rock Island County Board member Nick Camlin, D-Rock Island, said Tuesday, urging the board to approve the agreement.

Mr. Johnston said he was worried the tax deal could set a precedent. Bigger taxpayers, such as SouthPark Mall, could be next in line seeking an abatement.

Mr. Baldwin said the tax abatement was essential to the development's financing plan. He said he hopes to bring a tax abatement proposal to Moline City Council next month and to break ground on the project next year.

In other business, former Rock Island County Board chairman Jim Bohnsack was appointed to a five-year term on theMetropolitan Airport Authority of Rock Island County by an 18-7 vote. Four Republicans and three Democrats, including Mr. Johnston, voted against the appointment.

Mr. Johnston said the appointment was part of an "arrangement" between Mr. Bohnsack and new county board chairman Phil Banaszek that he could not support.

Mr. Bohnsack will take the place of Andy Gianulis on the airport board. His term will expire in 2017.