Category: Election

Our Forever Water Plan

Our Forever Water Plan

As Mayor, Jack Hatch knows that our number one priority is protecting our water. As a state legislator, Jack Hatch wrote the law that was the largest environmental clean-up program in Iowa which eliminated groundwater contamination due to leaking underground gasoline tanks. In the mayor’s office, Jack Hatch will fight to keep Des Moines Water Works under city control, and make sure the Des Moines water supply is the cleanest in the state.

Jack Hatch proposes the following plan, called Our Forever Water, to accomplish four main objectives: 1. Ensure water quality, 2. Protect ratepayers. 3. Meet future growth opportunities. 4. Require a vote of the residences of Des Moines for any future reorganization of the Water Works.

“Sunshine” Public Hearings

To protect our water, Jack Hatch believes we must first stand up to those who would secretly take control away from the city. In fact, Frank Cownie worked with state legislators from rural areas to takeover Des Moines local water supply. Mayor Cownie even refused to take a position when the city council voted to go along with the takeover even though Des Moines residents overwhelmingly opposed it. On September 25, 2019, Jack Hatch revealed a previously secret memo proposing to dismantle the Des Moines Water Works. That’s why Jack Hatch calls for immediate “sunshine” public hearings and transparency to determine the full effects on ratepayers and water quality.

Require a vote of the citizens of Des Moines

As Mayor, Jack Hatch will ensure that Des Moines water will forever be protected.  He will require a vote of the citizens of Des Moines to ever relinquish control of our water.  

Independent Financial Analysis and Public Hearing

Any discussions between the Des Moines Water Works Board of Trustees and other municipalities should be suspended and a comprehensive internal review of the proposed regional authority must be conducted with city council approval.

Des Moines Water Works should not sell its assets without an independent financial analysis and a vote of its citizens.

In addition to public input, an independent financial analysis will determine whether or how the sale of Des Moines Water Works should be negotiated.

A Regional Collaborative Task Force

If elected, Jack Hatch will immediately take the following actions:

1: Recognizing the regional nature of the Des Moines Water Works as a provider of water to surrounding cities, Jack Hatch will create a Regional Task Force comprising of members of the Des Moines Water Works, Des Moines city council, other local governments, regional associations, soil conservation districts, and citizens that comprise the Raccoon River Watershed basin. This task force will ensure a bottom up approach to developing active strategies to reduce nitrates and phosphates in our water. 

2: Authorize the Task Force to recommend a regional authority through Chapter 28E agreements that will begin to adequately recognize the assets of the Des Moines Water Works and other water utilities but recognizing that the rate payers of Des Moines have valuable assets that must be protected. 

If these steps are taken, the residents of the city will be assured that they are receiving the highest quality water possible and provide for the future growth of the Des Moines metropolitan area.

Our Neighborhood Infrastructure

Our Neighborhood Infrastructure

As Mayor, Jack Hatch will improve our neighborhoods – while downtown development has skyrocketed our neighborhoods are being forgotten with too many potholes in the roads and school infrastructure in need of repairs while our taxes have gone up. As Mayor, Jack Hatch will fix our roads and failing infrastructure.

Our Schools – Partnership Plan

Our Schools – Partnership Plan

Jack Hatch authored the largest minority college scholarship fund for high school students to attend one of the three state universities.  Jack Hatch wants more coordination between the city council and the school board to create internships and summer jobs for our students.

Iowa is moving in the wrong direction on education and it affects Des Moines greatly. After national rankings in the top three states, Iowa today is ranked 24th on a broad range of metrics from early childhood education to high school graduation.  The picture in higher education isn’t much better when Iowa is ranked with the third highest student debt.  The state’s regression on national rankings on education is an astonishing reality for most Iowans who have become accustomed to educational excellence as a bipartisan norm only to see our advantages decline in this decade.   Iowans need to understand that our future is directly related to our children’s education. As the largest city in the state, Des Moines can help restore excellence and expand educational and investment opportunities.  The City of Des Moines can step up and work more closely with the Des Moines Public Schools (DMPS) to ensure our kids have the best opportunity to learn.

There’s no doubt that the State of Iowa and the legislature have provided a crushing blow to public schools by reducing state aid.  The lowest average increases in state spending on schools and to the DMPS has come during the past eight years.  Any expansion of our universal early childhood education program has been stalled.  Our teacher pay rank has fallen to the middle.  

Long gone is the class size initiative that made Iowa’s elementary and middle schools the envy of the nation and DMPS have suffered.

The City of Des Moines can help in making our schools better

With the continued reduction of state funding to keep up with expenses, state aid does not recognize the funds needed to reach the student diversity within the Des Moines Independent School District and, as a result, the DMPS has to rely more heavily on property tax for revenue.  This failure of the state now requires the city to work closer with the school district to ensure that all our Des Moines students get the best education available.  In our schools, we have over 100 different languages and dialects, our minority enrollment exceeds 60%, and our class sizes are larger than ever. The district has over 32,500 students with 38 elementary schools, 11 middle schools, 5 high schools, and 10 special schools or programs. We have over 10 international baccalaureate world schools, 5 turnaround art schools, the only public Montessori school in Iowa, and Central Academy for advanced placement.  THIS IS AN INCREDIBLE SCHOOL DISTRICT and the city should be more involved.

Presently, the city council and the board of education have no formal relationship and act completely independently.  There is no obligation for the school district and the city to cooperate on anything, the budget, tax revenue, athletic events, job training, or summer work activities.  This will now change. 

The following are policy areas I will recommend to both the city council and the school board:

  1.  Request that the President of the school board and the Superintendent become ex-officio members of the city council.  They will receive the agenda, respond and provide input on all matters on the agenda, provide analysis and research, and share how the city’s decisions impact the schools and the education of our youngest residents.  They will be seated at our table and have the right to engage in our discussion; however, they will be non-voting members. When families decide on where they want to live, they also decide on where their children will go to school.  The city and school district are tied at the hip and we should be more pro-active in our collaboration.
  2. Develop year-round internships in city government for students.  We will develop, with the school board, student internships for their students in city departments and agencies. In addition, we will request that other local governments establish a robust program or increase any existing internships that presently exist.  It is our hope that class credit will be extended, and a stipend provided to all internships.
  3. Re-establish Summer Youth Jobs at our parks and recreation facilities and partner with businesses to create summer employment opportunities.  Summertime is always difficult for schools to keep in contact with its students.  It is also the time of year that students could fall into increased trouble.  Instead of putting the burden on our police department to deal with the “summertime blues”, we will establish a Mayor and Council Summer Youth Jobs Program.  We will solicit funds from private sector employers, local and state employment programs, federal workforce job training funds, and individual donations to create a robust and educational/job vocational summer employment program.

Housing Affordability in our Neighborhoods

Housing Affordability in our Neighborhoods

As Mayor, Jack Hatch understands affordable housing is one of our top priorities. Jack Hatch is an award-winning affordable housing builder who works with Iowa cities and towns to build homes for middle class and low income families. As mayor, Jack Hatch will use his experience to increase affordable housing in Des Moines, making sure taxpayer dollars are spent efficiently and wisely, and working to lower property taxes.

The wrong priorities

In 2006, the city started selling off its public housing assets, with the only direction by HUD to use the sales proceeds to promote more affordable housing in Des Moines.  The pool of money was well over $8,000,000.  To date the city has said they have used it to “maintain” the existing public housing units, which they are trying to sell.  This was not the intent of that money.

The city has repeatedly awarded tax incentives to major companies to develop market rate properties in Des Moines, so much so that the downtown Des Moines core has a plus 10% vacancy rate due to so many units.  Of 3,000 units coming online in Des Moines, not ONE is considered affordable.

The new Energy Performance Standard ordinance to increase energy efficiency was so watered down that it is doomed to fail.  In trying to reduce carbon emissions (CO2), the city targeted the commercial and real estate interest by requiring them to meet energy efficiency standard, but they only affected 11% of the users.  This will make minimal impact on reducing CO2 emissions and it will have the unintended consequence of slowing down the rate of new affordable housing units. In a letter to the council, I recommended a bolder approach.  We should provide residential users incentives to install high energy equipment.  Instead of paying a rebate, they can deduct a certain amount on their property taxes thus being rewarded for installing energy efficiency equipment. For commercial and industrial properties that request city cash or reduced incentives, we should require them to meet Energy Star efficiency standards.

Finally, the city is trying to change their single-family zoning code, by restricting building material and requiring houses to have a minimum of 1,400 square feet and to have an attached garage.  The National Association of Home Builders have come out and stated that if this would pass, it will be the most onerous zoning code in the nation.  This zoning code change would create additional challenges to agencies that provide affordable housing like Habitat for Humanity and possible slow down additional development.  It would increase the costs of building single family homes in Des Moines by 35%.  The council should suspend the third reading of the ordinance so more direct input from neighborhood associations and builders could be solicited.

Affordable housing for working Families – “Our Housing Future”

Most of the city’s investment in affordable housing has been through the state’s Iowa Finance Authority, Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), HUD HOME fund and federal tax credits.  The city’s involvement has been limited and rarely has included local financial investments.  As a result, the city does not have an aggressive housing policy and provides little housing opportunity.  In addition, it has concentrated in the downtown area and not in other neighborhoods.

The “Our Housing Future” plan allows the city to prioritize both zoning and building of affordable workforce housing throughout the city: 

  • Create affordable housing funds for neighborhoods
    1. Create a Single-Family Housing Fund to build new single-family housing on vacant lots and identify in-fill housing opportunities.
    2. 2Create a Housing Renovation Fund, by identifying all abandon or troubled housing to rehabilitate existing rundown housing stock.
    3. Revenue for these two new funds will be from the creation of an incentive program requiring every commercial and industrial development which receives TIF or tax abatement to contribute 10% of their negotiated incentive package to be deposited into the two new funds.
    4. These funds will be administered through the existing public and private housing agencies the city presently uses (the NDC, NFC, PCHTF, Habitat for Humanity, non-profit agencies and private companies).
    5. Neighborhood associations will participate in the decision-making process.
    6. Establish new zoning requirements that would expedite permitting in creating conformity to housing in the neighborhood.
  • Freeze property taxes for all residents over 65 years old
    1. To lower the burden of increasing costs of home ownership to fixed-income residents, the city should freeze property taxes for all residents over 65 years old who still own and live in their home; and when they sell their home, they can pay back the city on a sliding scale. This will keep seniors in their homes longer and allow them to attend to potentially high medical needs and defer moving to a senior nursing home.
  • Protect historic homes and prioritize low-income housing:
    1. Accelerate the enrollment of applying for state and federal historic tax credits for eligible homes.
    2. Prioritize low-income housing throughout the city with automatic property tax abatement, tax increment financing, city loans and grants.

Finally, as a builder of affordable, market and commercial developments, if elected, I will no longer develop new projects in the corporate limits of Des Moines.

Our Community Safety

Our Community Safety

As Mayor, Jack Hatch understands community safety is a top priority. In the state legislature Jack Hatch sponsored legislation for universal background checks in Iowa…(click here to read more)”, and voted to prevent people who have been convicted of domestic violence from possessing firearms, which made him a target of the N.R.A. As mayor, Jack Hatch will work to reduce gun violence, increase community policing, and modernize the police force with cutting edge technologies.