True North purchase for Public Library

by Lisa Kuzela on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at 4:53pm
Here are the facts:

February 10, 2011 Cedar Rapids City Council discusses and chooses site for new library. It was between Emerald Knights, Gazette, and True North. Emerald Knights was the least expensive and the only one that did not take on any flood.

The citizen-based Library Board recommended the Gazette location. Second, was Emerald Knights. Third place, True North.

How the funding works: FEMA approves the acquisition cost for the purchase of the least expensive option (in this case, Emerald Knights), with local government having to make up the difference. This amount was $3.5 million. That’s why the City has $3.5 million from FEMA toward the acquisition cost for the library.

In spite of the presentation saying True North costing MILLIONS more than Emerald Knights, Council, with a swing vote, approves moving the Public Library to the True North site.
Emerald Knight supporters: Kris Gullick, Don Karr, Chuck Wieneke, Ron Corbett.
True North supporters: Monica Vernon, Justin Shields, Pat Shey, Tom Podzimek.
Swing voter (originally voting for Gazette site, respectfully going along with what the citizens’ Library Board recommended, yet did not use that same rationale for his second place), Chuck Swore.

At the time of this decision, True North did not own the property. It was owned by: Busse Investments, Inc., Jeff Busse, and Laverne T. Busse. In March 2010, they sold the property to True North for a total of $3.66 million.
Note: it was assessed pre-flood as well as post-flood at $1.5 million.
Note: it was flooded in the basement and several inches on first floor.

September 28, 2010 Council approves to purchase the property for $7.5 million.

During the combined November / December meeting, the citizens’ Local Option Sales Tax Oversight Committee voted overwhelmingly, 5-2, against using LOST funds for the acquisition of the library.

December 14, 2010 Council approves to spend $4 million of LOST funds to make up the difference that FEMA is paying. The City purchases the property for $7.5 million with an agreement to pay 50% of the cost of delays if the delays are the City’s fault, for up to $375,000.

February, 3, 2011, the LOST Oversight Committee meets. City auditor presents a matrix spreadsheet that states that Council obligated / approved $4.8 million of LOST funds for the Public Library acquisition. Lisa Kuzela questions the auditor on this, stating that Council approved only $4 million. In addition, “why isn’t the actual disbursement / payment listed in our matrix spreadsheet and the detailed list of expenditures?” Oh! It hasn’t been spent yet. Okay,…

But, REALLY??? …

No! Because, then Lisa finds that it WAS already spent according to the City’s “Weekly Paid Claims for the week of January 11th.

January 11, 2011, under the City’s “Weekly Paid Claims,” True North receives their full $7.5 million, paying – not $4 million from LOST – but $4.8 million. This is $800,000 over and above what Council approved.

Therefore, this expenditure should’ve been on the list of expenditures the Oversight Committee received on February 3rd. There was plenty of time to put it on there. There are pages of other expenditures after that date listed on the detailed list of expenditures the Oversight Committee was given. So, why did our own city auditor not include this $4.8 million LOST expenditure information to the Oversight Committee? Because the check was for $800,000 more than what Council approved, that’s why.

The City of Cedar Rapids received the deed to this True North property on December 29, 2011. The deal was done and payments were made. (BTW, this was a mere FIFTEEN days after Council approved spending $4 million from LOST to make up the gap between the $7.5 million purchase price and the $3.5 million FEMA covered. Why can’t they move that fast with the flood victims’ buyouts?)

Just think, if our city bought the True North site directly from the owners at the time they decided to put the library there, FEMA would’ve paid for the entire acquisition, and there wouldn’t have been any LOST money needed.

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About Ajai Dittmar

There is nothing 'radical' about wanting to save your historical neighborhood! There is nothing 'negative' for wanting an 'outside investigation' done a public service that has had a lot of embarrassing news, especially when they don't do their jobs! There is nothing 'odd' about wanting politicians to uphold the Constitution they swear to uphold when they are sworn into office! Follow @sibzianna View all posts by Ajai Dittmar

10 responses to “True North purchase for Public Library

  • Lisa Kuzela

    UPDATE: During the City Council 2011 debate for District 2, Mayor Pro Tem Monica Vernon said that the Federal Agencies would not let the city keep the flooded Cedar Rapids Public Library on the same site. “It was imperative” that we move it.

    FACT: The opposite was true; FEMA wanted the City to keep the library on the same site and rebuild it one foot higher than the flood plain. They also said that it was the most cost-effective choice. The City continued to appeal to FEMA all the way up until a couple days before the Council approved buying the TrueNorth Insurance property site for $7.5 million in September 2010.

    CITIZENS: Citizens everywhere have been asking why we moved it. The citizens preferred to keep the libary there and build parking underneath. It would’ve saved the taxpayers $7.5 million of a property acquisition, plus additional costs. For example, the demolition of TrueNorth started out at less than $43,000. It is now over $1,000,000. But certain council members had their minds made up and nothing was going to obstruct their path, especially the taxpayers.

    DECEPTION: The City has convinced the general public that we “had to relocate it;” even blatantly lying to the people about it!

    Please go to http://www.WeCanDoBetterCR.com for documentation of this topic.

  • Vender Ouro

    There are some fascinating cut-off dates on this article but I don’t know if I see all of them center to heart. There’s some validity however I will take maintain opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we would like extra! Added to FeedBurner as well

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    As The Great one says Liberalizum iizzzzzzzzzzz a Mental disorder Too much Ritilan there choo choo train to communisum!!! you yuppie schmuck anti American idiot!! I bet you love Nancy Pillosi and would love to SSSSSSs Obama s DDDDDDDDDDDD I steped off the Plane in 72 from in Country and your DH Hippie Grand Parents Acused me of Murder!! Against Lies upon lies look at what cinical thinking freedom sucking fags have done to this country!.

  • Lu Zhou

    A good job on the 70% of the story that was covered. Disappointing that the job wasnt complete.

  • Tom

    Lisa, The council never approved any money. Look at the City Resolution – NO AMOUNT IS DISCLOSED !!!! The City Council NEVER APPORVED the $7.5 by Resolution therefore, the whole deal is a fraud and a taxpayer lawsuit could be used to force the Councilors and Mayor to pay back to the City $7.5 Million —- Check it out !!!

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