City approves budget, local startup seeks funding


Kennedy DeRaedt/Iowa State Daily

Ames City Council meets Jan. 15 in City Hall to discuss the 2019-2024 Capital Improvements Plan. Staff members gave a presentation on their recommendations for the next five years.

Talon Delaney

The City Council approved the adjusted budget for fiscal year 2018-19 and the proposed budget for fiscal year 2019-20, as well as setting March 5 as the final public hearing for the two budgets. The FY 2019-20 budget plans to allocate more than $250 million in public funds.

The Ames Community Academy will receive funding after the council approved $15,000 be allocated to them from the council contingency fund. The council voted 5-1 in favor of the funds, with Ward One Rep. Gloria Betcher voting no. The Community Academy received no funds last year.

“After reading through their proposal I saw that [this funding] was an opportunity that wasn’t usually afforded to low-income or minority students at all,” said Tara Andrews, a city volunteer on the outside funders committee. “I couldn’t rightly not give them any funding, and after thorough discussion with the committee we agreed to give them something.”

The Ames Community Academy is an organization dedicated to providing local K-12 students with hands on educational programs specifically geared to teach children a diverse curriculum while focusing on important community needs.

“I do have concerns for that sort of funding level for a new organization… when I read the grant application I’m not sure where the funding would go,” Betcher said. “I see an impact on about 60 kids, I see vague somewhat vague descriptions of what we get, so I don’t know if I support $15,000.”

Betcher said she would agree to give the Community Academy $11,000, which was the amount recommended by city staff, but the rest of the council believed the difference was negligible.

The city also adopted a resolution to allow Vertex, a new Ames software company, to submit a loan application to the Iowa Economic Development Authority (IEDA). Vertex is applying for $1.5 million in state funding and the city of Ames would be expected to loan $300,000 as a match to those funds.

Vertex was founded in 2017 by Dan Murray, a local entrepreneur who also co-founded the Ames-based enterprise software company Workiva. Vertex already has $10 million in capital investments.

“The thing that’s really exciting to me is the opportunity to grow the local economy and retain the talent that comes from outside of Ames,” Murray said. “I’m really excited about what’s building and I appreciate you looking into our application.”

Murray plans on creating 300 jobs in the Ames area and building a 60,000 square foot building in the Iowa State University Research Park.

In addition to direct funding the IEDA is proposing “indirect support in the form of tax credits and training assistance that could total another $2,575,000,” according to city council documents.

“The only decision we’re making today is whether or not the local government endorses the application,” said City Finance Director Duane Pitcher. The council approved the resolution unanimously.

The council also directed city staff to prepare a pre-annexation agreement for a group of properties south of Ames, between Cedar Lane and University Boulevard. The agreement would aid property owners in participating in a voluntary annexation process, where they could attain annexation if written approval from each property owner was gained.