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  • Writer's pictureCharlene Sims, Journal staff

Commission supports housing tax rebate proposal on split vote


A grant application by the county for the moderate income housing grant would be helped by creating a Neighborhood Revitalization program. (Wix stock photo)


MOUND CITY – Two housing-related proposals presented by Economic Development Director Jessica Hightower were nearly turned down by the Linn County Commissioners on Monday, Feb. 13. Ultimately, however, commissioners approved the proposals on a split vote.

Jessica Hightower told the commissioners that more points would be added to the moderate income housing (MIH) grant that was being submitted to the state if the county had a Neighborhood Revitalization program and also the résumé of at least one contractor in the area who was interested in working with the program.


The commissioners approved Hightower applying for $650,000 for the grant from the Kansas Housing Corporation on Jan. 30. The grant would help the county bring a developer or developers to build homes in the county.


Commissioners also approved using the $100,000 supplemental American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) grant money they were receiving as a match for the grant.


Jessica Hightower reported that the newly formed Linn County Housing Committee met two times and spent a lot of time considering the Neighborhood Revitalization programs before deciding to break them into two programs, one for new housing and one for rehabilitation.


She explained the process for the new housing grant. The new homeowner would have the land appraised before the house was built and again after the house was built.


The county tax rebate would be based on the difference of the appraised value before and after the house was built. After the construction, if the appraisal value is more than $50,000 of the first appraisal, they will receive tax rebates for five years.


The first year the rebate would be 100%, the second year 75%, the third and fourth year 50%, and the fifth year 25%.

The housing committee will choose 10 new construction applicants per year and their applications will get final approval from the commission. Applications will be due by the end of March each year.


County Counselor Gary Thompson reinforced that this would add more points to the grant, which is very competitive.


Jessica Hightower reported that the second Neighborhood Revitalization grant would not have a due date or a cap. The rebate on this rehabilitation grant would be 100% for the difference in valuation for five years.


They have to increase the values by $20,000 or 20% for residential and $25,000 or 25% for commercial.

She explained that the purpose of these grants is to increase the county’s tax base and quality of housing in the county. She pointed out that it is difficult to get young people to stay in the county if there is limited housing. She also told the commissioners that this is what Housing Champion Darcy Wilson’s position is focused on this year.


She said that cities can opt into this with an interlocal agreement after the county approves the program. The interlocal agreements will have to be approved by the attorney general’s office.


Appraiser Kathy Bridges said that she had met with Jessica and Darcy about the programs and felt that the treasurer and the county clerk should also meet with them because they all would be involved in the process. Bridges said that the guidelines seemed pretty broad. She said that her office would be highly involved in this process.


McCullough asked if the cities don’t want to be involved in it, why would the county want to do it for houses in the city.

Johnson said the schools aren’t even involved in it, so that’s half the tax money.

Jessica Hightower said that even if the city does not do an abatement, that is a new home or remodeled home in the county. The citizens of the city are also residents of the county, so it would still impact the county.

Bridges said she thought it was a great program. When you look at neighborhood revitalization, you want to bring in some new construction, you want to redevelop dilapidated areas, she said.

Johnson asked if the appraisers office would have to go into houses to evaluate them. Bridges said they just would do an onsite inspection,

Jessica Hightowersaid that the homeowner would communicate with her office that the construction was complete, then she would notify the appraisers office.


Jessica Hightowerapologized for the late information sent to the commissioners on Friday afternoon. She told them that the second housing committee meeting was that afternoon and she emailed the commissioners the information as soon as the committee made their decisions.

She also told the commissioners that one contractor had responded to her requests for proposal for this project and that was Chad Page with Page Construction. She explained that the option for more contractors to sign up was open for 90 days but they would send in Page’s résumé with the grant.


Commission Chair Danny McCullough questioned whether these programs would cause more issues throughout the county in the long term. He said he thought there were a lot of unanswered questions.

Johnson also said there were too many questions.

Thompson said that the benefits of the additional points in the grant were worth it. He also said this draft was a placeholder for programs that would evolve.


McCullough said he was opposed to it right now and needed to know more about it.


Commissioner Jason Hightower asked why they had approved the economic development director going for this MIH grant if they were not going to support it.

Johnson wanted to know if the school districts were going to get involved in the tax rebate.

Jessica Hightower said she had not approached the school districts yet. She said that she and Wilson had met with the cities to get their input, but since they could not opt in until it was approved by the county, she did not ask for any commitments.


McCullough said he did not know anything about it and would have to look into it.


Johnson made a motion to approve the Neighborhood Revitalization programs as long as the county clerk, treasurer and appraiser were involved in the program. Johnson and Hightower voted yes, McCullough no.

Commissioner Hightower made a motion to submit Page’s résumé with the application. The vote was also two to one.







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