- Associated Press - Saturday, February 27, 2016

DAVENPORT, Iowa (AP) - Davenport officials are weighing whether to keep a tax incentive for new and renovated homes in the city.

The program, begun in 2009, provides a 50 percent rebate of the city’s share of property taxes for 10 years to people who build a home or renovate an existing property. It was intended to rescue Davenport from a nationwide housing slump.

Some city leaders defending the program say it attracts residents who might otherwise move to neighboring towns, the Quad-City Times reported (https://bit.ly/1KSCLTj ) Saturday. But others believe the program has outlived its usefulness and become an entitlement program.

Rachel Jennings and her fiancé, Erik Schilling, were among those swayed by the program to build in Davenport. Jennings said they were leaning toward buying a home in Bettendorf last year when they learned of Davenport’s tax benefit.

City Council members have been mulling whether to modify the program or eliminate it when discussion begins on the 2018 budget.

So far, Davenport has rebated more than $5 million.

“With the recession, we felt we needed this type of catalyst,” Alderman Bill Boom said. “Maybe we don’t need it as much anymore.”

But Alderman Mike Matson supports keeping the program, saying that “getting new families with kids into the school system is a good thing.”

Other council members argue the incentive is keeping existing homes in the city from selling and that some central neighborhoods with no room for new building aren’t benefiting from the program.

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Information from: Quad-City Times, https://www.qctimes.com

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