Retail development could be key to future Rock Island growth; a game leaders have played before

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ROCK ISLAND-- Rock Island mothers Beth Samuelson and Cathy Harris come to the Rock Island freshman basketball game to cheer on their sons. They are fans of their city, but they aren't fans of higher taxes.

"They're trying to increase property taxes," says Harris.

"The taxes in Rock Island are high," says Samuelson.

Next year the city will have less money but more bills to pay which means a handful of city positions will be cit, people will pay more at the gas pump and for garbage fees, and taxpayers will pay more in property taxes.

But instead of taking money from moms like Beth and Cathy, they want to see more money coming into their city.

"Their priority should be to get more businesses in here to make more money for Rock Island," says Samuelson.

"I wish Rock Island had more to offer. Walmart would have really helped, and it was a big failure," says Harris.

The city spent $15M to prepare a 23-acre lot off of 11th Street for a new Walmart store. But last year, the company backed out of the deal.

"I think they need to work harder at getting more businesses into our community," says Samuelson.

Rock Island Mayor Mike Thoms says the city is working to fill that empty lot. He says he recently attended a retail show in Chicago to find businesses that might come to the area, and he's ready to offer tax incentives.

"We had some good success, and we're still in talks with some of them. Nothing's solid yet, but those types of conversations are going on," says Thoms.

But for now these Rock Island fans may have to accept paying more next year.

"We have to pay it. It just takes away from something else. We just have to cut back some place else," says Harris.

At the end of tonight's public forum, Alderman Dylan Parker talked about trying to get downtown Rock Island recognized as a historic landmark. He says that will help secure funds from the state and federal governments to go toward getting more businesses to invest in the city.

Rock Island council will vote on the budget in two weeks on December 18.

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