The Gazette covers City Hall, now a flood-damaged icon on May's Island in the Cedar River

Posts Tagged ‘Rob Hogg’

Gov. Culver calls out the TV cameras on Tuesday to sign bill that forgives Jumpstart housing loans in five years, instead of the current 10

In City Hall, Jumpstart on April 20, 2009 at 9:18 pm

Gov. Chet Culver is making a big deal about it.

His office on Monday announced that Culver would hold a public ceremony on Tuesday in Iowa City to sign a new law that benefit flood victims who have gotten Jumpstart housing assistance.

Until now, those receiving the assistance got it in the form of forgivable loans that took 10 years to forgive. The change in the law will make the loans forgivable in five years.

“Thousands of Iowans have benefitted from the state’s Jumpstart Iowa Housing Program since it was created last fall,” Culver said in a press release on Monday. “With this legislation, we are giving a little more help to these who have already suffered so much.”

Culver will sign the new legislation – passed unanimously by both the Iowa Senate and Iowa House – at Old Capitol in Iowa City on Tuesday afternoon. Culver will be using Old Capitol as his office for the day.

Last Friday, Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, announced that the Jumpstart housing matter had passed the legislature and was on the way to the governor’s office. Hogg was one of the bill’s proponents.

Two months ago, at a nighttime neighborhood meeting in the Time Check Neighborhood, flood victims spoke to city officials and Iowa lawmakers. On that night, shortening the period of the Jumpstart forgivable loans to five years was one of the requests. Neighbors noted that Jumpstart business loans were for five years, why couldn’t the housing loans be? they asked.

That night, City Manager Jim Prosser said City Hall would see what it could do. Hogg was on hand that night, too.

City Hall’s lobbyist, Larry Murphy, was among lobbyists pushing lawmakers in Des Moines to make the Jumpstart change.

State lawmakers from Cedar Rapids deliver again: Jumpstart housing loans now forgivable in 5 years, not 10, once governor signs the bill

In City Hall, Floods, Jumpstart, Rob Hogg on April 17, 2009 at 5:21 pm

It has gnawed at flood victims who have received Jumpstart housing funds for months: That the money has come in the form of forgivable loans, which take 10 years to forgive, while Jumpstart funds for businesses are forgiven in five years.

This week, though, the Iowa Legislature passed a new law and sent it to Gov. Chet Culver that will make the term of the Jumpstart housing loans now in place and to come five years instead of ten years, Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, confirmed Friday.

Hogg, who credited Sen. Wally Horn, D-Cedar Rapids, with managing the bill through the state senate, said the measure was somewhat controversial simply because of the work required to change the terms of a large number of loans. But he said the Iowa Department of Economic Development has said it was committed to taking the work on.

Hogg noted that some Jumpstart housing awards were made with state dollars and some with federal Community Development Block Grant funds, and he said the state will have to amend its CDBG arrangement with the federal government so that both sources of forgivable loans are treated consistently.

Jon Galvin, a flood victim and Jumpstart recipient as well as vice president of the Northwest Neighbors Association, on Friday said shortening the time period on the forgivable loan from 10 years to five years puts the homeowner on the same level as the business owner.

Galvin, a retiree, says who knows how long he and his wife might live.

“At our age, our kids would be or could be still paying off these liens at the 10-year rate,” he said. Now, he said he might get out of debt again “before I leave this world.”

State lawmakers from Cedar Rapids see to it that owners of abandoned flood-damaged homes don’t louse up a return to life for neighbors

In Brian Fagan, Floods, Rob Hogg on April 16, 2009 at 9:04 pm

A common lament in flood-hit neighborhoods here comes from those fixing up their homes while neighbors next door or down the block have abandoned theirs.

On Thursday, the Iowa Legislature did something about that.

State lawmakers passed a bill and sent it to Gov. Chet Culver that will permit Cedar Rapids and other cities to go to court and in expedited fashion take title to disaster-affected abandoned properties if a concerted effort to find the owner has failed.

Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, managed the bill through the Iowa Senate and on Thursday said that the city of Cedar Rapids has told him that it thinks the owners of 150 to 200 flood-damaged properties have simply walked away from them and can’t be found.

“The biggest thing is it gives the city clear title to this property that has been abandoned so the city can then do something productive to the property,” Hogg said.

Hogg said Rep. Todd Taylor, D-Cedar Rapids, managed the bill in the Iowa House.

The legislation, he said, is “very much in favor” of people who are trying to repair their homes or the business people who are trying to bring their businesses back in the flooded zones.

“One of the things that is so challenging right now is you might have an owner here and an owner here who are bringing their properties back, but these other properties, their owners have just walked away from them,” Hogg said. “And they’re in as dilapidated a condition as they were last June when the flood waters receded.

“And so it’s unfair to the people who are trying to bring their properties back to have neighboring properties that have just been totally walked away from. And hopefully this procedure will allow the city to do something very quickly about that.”

Hogg said the bill includes a provision that brings the legal action to a halt if the owner shows up within the period of the action. The city must work to find an owner of a disaster-affected property at least 30 days before going to court. At least 60 days then must pass before a court hearing on the matter.

If the court agrees the property has been abandoned, the court awards clear title of the property to the city at the property’s existing market value. The city pays that amount to the court, and if unclaimed, the money reverts to the city after two years.

Hogg said the bill, which addresses property damaged by a disaster between May 1 and Sept. 1, 2008, is designed to remedy “truly abandoned property.”

Cedar Rapids City Council member Brian Fagan on Thursday said the city had pushed for the legislation because abandoned properties, which had been a problem for the city prior to the flood, are especially a problem since the flood.

“Certainly we want to be respectful of property rights, but the huge, overriding concern is the health, welfare and safety of our residents,” Fagan said.

A few words in new law on local-option sales tax hurt unincorporated Linn, help Marion, change little for Cedar Rapids

In City Hall, Linn County government, Marion on February 23, 2009 at 2:50 pm

There is a small, little-noticed line in a special piece of state legislation, legislation that has permitted a fast track to the March 3 vote on a 1-percent local-option sales tax.

Should the sales tax pass throughout the county, that line in the new law will have a notable, negative dollar impact on the Linn County Board of Supervisors and the unincorporated area of Linn County for which it is responsible. And at the same time, the law change will have a nice positive impact for the city of Marion.

Other jurisdictions in the county will notice little difference.

The reason for the notable change in expected sales-tax revenue for the Linn supervisors and the city of Marion is a change in the data used in the formula dictating how the tax is dispensed within a county.

The formula is based on two things: each jurisdiction’s percentage of total property-tax revenue in the county and each jurisdiction’s percentage of total population in the county. One quarter of the weight of the formula is given to the former, three quarters to the latter.

State law has based the property-tax revenue on taxes collected in the years from 1983-1985. Every local-option sales tax in the state – only six county seat cities don’t have the tax — has its distribution formula based on that three-year period in the 1980s.

However, that three-year period of property-tax revenue was changed to 2005-2007 in the recent special legislation, steered through the Statehouse by Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids.

Hogg on Monday said the intent of changing the years in the formula was to accurately reflect how communities have developed in the last 25 years.

In Linn County, what changed between 1983-85 and 2005-07 is that the metro-area cities have grown into parts of what had been unincorporated Linn County, and as a result, the relative property-tax revenue has shifted a bit to the city from the country.

This is why unincorporated Linn County fares less well in the new computation of the distribution formula and why fast-growing Marion has fared better.

The 1-percent local-option sales tax is expected to bring in about $30 million a year in all of Linn County if every jurisdiction in the county passes the tax on March 3.

If that happens, the Linn County Board of Supervisors and unincorporated Linn County will receive an estimated $4,899,000 a year. However, that is an amount $483,000 a year less than it would have been under the formula’s old computation. In total, that’s $2,535,750 less over the course of five years and three months. In that time, the tax will raise $25,719,750 for the unincorporated area of the county.

For Marion, the change will be in the other direction. Over five years and three months, the tax is expected to bring in $19,719,000 for Marion, an amount that is $306,000 a year more or $1,606,500 more over the life of the tax than it would have been using the earlier property-tax years in the distribution formula.

The city of Cedar Rapids now will receive 59.9 percent of the tax revenue – about $18 million — in the new formula and it would have received 59.79 percent if the 1980s property-tax revenue had been used.

With the new formula, unincorporated Linn County will receive 16.33 percent of the tax revenue, but it would have received 17.94 percent using the 1980s property-tax revenue figures, according to the Iowa Department of Revenue.

Marion now will obtain 12.52 percent of the revenue, up from 11.5 percent under the old formula while Hiawatha will get 3.04 percent up from 2.74 percent.

SEE this chart to see how each Linn jurisdiction will fare now and each would have fared under the old arrangement.

Sen. Hogg said the city of Coralville, in particular, pushed for the change of the years used in the formula as a way to take into account the changes in development in the last 25 years. Johnson County jurisdictions vote on a sales tax in May.