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Home Base Iowa

By Staff | Mar 3, 2016

The City of Emmetsburg is moving forward with incentives to bring military veterans into the workforce of the community through Home Base Iowa.

At the Feb. 22 City Council meeting, a list of incentives was adopted to include in the application for Home Base Iowa designation. The Home Base Iowa effort helps connect Iowa businesses with qualified veterans looking for career opportunities, specifically in semi-skilled and skilled positions.

Councilman Mike Hermansen has been heading up efforts to have Palo Alto County designated Home Base Iowa. Working with a group of volunteers, a list of incentives was established and presented to Emmetsburg City Council. Billie Jo Hoffman, Emmetsburg Economic Development Director, presented the list of incentives to the council.

“A lot of towns are putting a lot of effort on this,” she said.

Incentives include:

Waiving of building permits and water/sewer taps

The building permit fee for all new homes or home-remodels shall be waived or refunded upon purchase of a new home. This also includes decks, fences, sheds.

Waiver of Utility Deposits

Waiver of water and gas department deposits

Discount Toward Child Care

Maximum of 45 hours for one year

Housing Assistance

Up to $5,000 joint county/city assistance toward purchase of home. During council discussion, a suggestion was made to establish a fund with Wild Rose direct dollars in cooperation with the Board of Supervisors.

Property Tax Abatement

Property tax abatement is available to all residents of Emmetsburg. Abatement is available for added value to a home.

“Residents can put in an application and bring it to the council,”said Councilman Burdick. “If a veteran moves back to town, I’m glad to support the family.”

“What I understood when I was visiting with Mike (Hermansen), they were trying to think of real costs to young couples when they move to a new home,” said City Administrator John Bird. “What are some of the things that are really tough on them to get started? School and child care are a couple of those issues.

Fire and EMS?Waiver

The city does not charge any fees for EMS or fire.

Free Garbage and Recycling Pickup

The city will offer free garbage and recycling for veterans whoa re homeowners in Emmetsburg for a period of one year.

Parks and Recreation

Emmetsburg will offer to veterans a membership to either the Five Island Golf course or the Smith Wellness Center with the purchase of either.

Councilman Brian Malm, speaking on behalf of the Golf Board, approved of this proposal. The city was waiting to hear from the Smith Wellness Center.

“Things can be added to this, too, as it goes along,”?said Billie Jo Hoffman. “This is kind of a work in progress. We want to get the application done as soon as possible as there will be changes in requirements for Home Base designation. We are hoping to get all of this done by the middle of March.”

Palo Alto County

Board of Supervisors

Maureen Elbert, Executive Director of the Palo Alto County Economic Development Committee, addressed the Palo Alto County Supervisors at their Tuesday meeting, giving them an update on the progress of Emmetsburg becoming a Home Base community.

“Mike Hermansen has been signing up business that are willing to pledge to hire a veteran or active service member. So far he has 36 businesses that have made this pledge. Cliff Christensen has also been in contact with the DOT (Department of Transportation) regarding the signage needed. We will need four signs at the cost of $60 each. I am asking that the Supervisors give us the $240 needed to pay for these signs,” Elbert said.

“Doesn’t that come out of the $70,000 that we already give Economic Development?” Supervisor Chairman Linus Solberg asked.

“No that’s completely separate,” Elbert responded. “I also have a challenge for the members of the Board. I challenge you to go out into the communities and sign up another business for Home Base Iowa. This is only a pledge and the business pledge will never stop.”

“We would like to ask the Board to consider donating $20,000 along with the city to develop a housing assistance program. The person could then apply for a $5,000 grant toward the purchase of a new home. Once the $40,000 is gone, it is gone,” said Mike Hermansen, Emmetsburg City Council member.

“Is this a needs based program?” Supervisor Ed Noonan asked.

“This is not a needs based program. It is an incentive to move to the area. The incentive package would be the same if it was a family or a single individual,” Elbert replied. “We are trying to set ourselves and the state apart from others.”

“Most people coming to the state are Iowans to begin with. We are just trying to help with the initial cost of setting up a home,” Hermansen said.

“We need to make sure this does not become an expansion project. We need to keep taxes in the county low. Does the casino give grants specifically for something like this?” Noonan asked.

“I haven’t talked to the casino but intend to,” Hermansen said.

“We are also talking with other towns to be a Home Based community in the county,” Elbert said.

“I think it is a good program,” Supervisor Craig Merrill said.

“I think we need to table the $20,000 donation until Mike has a chance to talk with the casino to see what plans they have for grants in this area,” Noonan said.

“I just want to remind you that the Board did sign a resolution for a Home Base Iowa community back on Dec. 16, 2014. I will be filling out the forms and submitting them this week,” Elbert said.

At this time the donation of $20,000 was tabled until more information could be gathered regarding grants from the casino.