Revitalization good pathway for community

City commissioners were scheduled to have a public hearing on continuation of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program this afternoon. The assumption is they will renew it for another three years.
There is very good reason why the program should be kept in place.
What it does is provide tax incentives to improve existing properties or replace dilapidated properties with new ones. Threshold for abatement is $5,000 and advantage is for 10 years, with full abatement, less a 5 percent administration fee for Allen County, the first six years and then abatements of 80, 60, 40 and 20 percent the remaining four years.
The first program had limited scope, although some properties outside designated zones were included through exceptions made by city commissioners. That irked Allen County commissioners; other taxing units involved, Allen County Community College and USD 257, raised no fuss. A hearing protocol for exceptions will accompany the new program.
The new program will include all of the inner and older core of the city to keep development from creating what City Administrator Judy Brigham referred to as a doughnut effect, or having new construction restricted to the fringes of town.
The program has no downside.
Any abatements given are on appraisable property that didn’t exist previously.
It’s a matter of taxing units gaining new assessed valuation. And the incentive is for residential as well as business properties.

PRIVATE development of some properties into new residences is under way and the revitalization program will be important to its success.
Example: If a house valued at $100,000 is built, its assessed valuation is $11,500. With Iola’s current total tax rate of 154 mills, that means abatement each of the first six years is $1,771, or $10,626 over the six years before the sliding scale sets in.
That’s great encouragement to give local residents good reason to move up to a better dwelling or for non-residents to seriously consider moving to Iola.
Similarly, home or business owners who make substantial im-provements receive the same short-term tax breaks.
Revitalization is a relatively common incentive in Kansas communities and it is one that all elected officials should em-brace as a forward-looking approach to community improvement.

— Bob Johnson