Interview: City Council candidate Scott McDonough on TIFS and affordable housing

Photo courtesy of Scott McDonough
Photo courtesy of Scott McDonough

The November elections may be seven months away, but some Iowa City residents are already announcing their bids for City Council. Scott McDonough, owner of McDonough Structures, is one such candidate, having announced his candidacy last week. But, what do we know about this newcomer thus far?

After graduating from the University of Iowa School of Business in 1988 and living in Johnson County for over 20 years, McDonough is running for a seat in District C — located just north of downtown Iowa City. Jim Throgmorton currently serves as the representative for District C, but will be seeking an at-large position in the upcoming election.

He’s no stranger to public service, and says he has an interest in affordable housing. He serves as the President of Habitat for Humanity’s Board of Directors; he’s also on the Englert Board of Directors and the Inclusionary Housing Committee for Riverfront Crossings District, as well as the Iowa City Board of Appeals and the Johnson County Affordable Homes Coalition.

As a member of the Inclusionary Housing Committee for the Riverfront District, McDonough says they have been working to develop a low-income housing solution for the district that could sustain itself with very little cost to taxpayers. He says part of the solution could include some form of support from the city, like TIF funding, which has been a controversial issue among residents.

“I think of TIFs as a tool the city can use, and I do like how Iowa City has implemented them in the past, meaning it really has to make sense for them to do it,” McDonough said. “I think they’ve been conservative with TIF use, not aggressive.”

While he says there isn’t an easy solution to solve housing disparities in the community, collaboration between the neighboring cities, Johnson County and school districts will be important.

“The ‘how to address [low income housing]’ is a challenge,” McDonough said. “Do we need it? Yes. Unless the city steps up and gives some sort of tax break or something to developers to build this kind of housing, it’s not going to happen because there’s no incentive. If some solution can be implemented it would add a tremendous amount of value to the community.”

Four City Council seats are up for grabs in this election — two at-large positions, as well as Districts A and C — which will take place this November.

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