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The Rundown – Commission approves incentive for new home construction

Post Date:06/12/2019 11:12 AM

The Rundown is prepared by the City of Newton Public Information Office to summarize the City Commission meeting and does not represent official Commission minutes.

7 p.m. June 11, 2019, Newton City Commission meeting

At Tuesday night’s meeting, the City Commission approved an incentive program for new home builders, as recommended by the city’s Housing Study and Needs Assessment.

The Commission received results Tuesday from the housing study, which identified a need for senior housing, rental housing and owner-occupied housing at all price points, as well as a need to rehabilitate existing older housing stock. Commissioners reviewed a draft strategic plan for addressing the needs from multiple angles, including incentives for builders and buyers, pursuing alternative funding sources, creation of a land bank, etc.

A working group of local real estate agents and bankers had brought forward the incentive proposal for home builders last month. They said the program is needed because Newton’s inventory of newly constructed homes is very low and doesn’t have enough selection to attract new home buyers. Many builders in the region are no longer willing to take the risk of building here because new homes haven’t sold as fast as in other communities. If a spec home remains on the market for an extended period of time, it eliminates or greatly reduces the profit for the builder.

Under the proposal, the City will provide qualified builders up to $10,000 per dwelling unit to assist with interest payments on construction loans for single-family, duplex or triplex units. The City will allocate $100,000 to the program. In addition, the City agrees that for any new home under construction, the builder will not be charged for sewer service, will be charged only for the water used rather than a minimum charge, and will not be charged for trash/recycling service unless the builder requests it.

The City will benefit from new property tax revenue generated by the new homes on the market. On a $200,000 home, the City will recoup its $10,000 investment in about seven years.

City Manager Bob Myers suggested the City could fund the program using about $53,000 the City had received back from its property insurance provider this year and could include the remainder of the allocation in the 2020 budget.

In other action, the City Commission:

  1. Approved a request to waive special event fees for the Harvey County Fair on Aug. 1-5 and approved a request to close Main Street for the Fair Parade on Aug. 1.
  2. Approved an application for a cereal malt beverage license for 12 Brew Drive Thru.
  3. Proclaimed June as American Legion Centennial Month.
  4. Approved a new fee structure for rental of roll-off Dumpsters. The delivery fee will be $50, plus $75 for each dump plus landfill fees. The Dumpsters also will now be available for landlords to rent.
  5. Approved new lease agreements with Avcon Industries for Building F and Hangars C, D, M, Q and W at Newton City/County Airport.
  6. Requested the County Commission to make findings allowing the annexation of City-owned property at Newton City/County Airport.
  7. Took the first steps to initiate eminent domain proceedings to acquire right-of-way necessary to extend water lines to serve Newton City/County Airport.
  8. Approved a merit pay increase for City Attorney Chris Towle.

For more information, please contact Director of Communications Erin McDaniel at 284-6055 or emcdaniel@newtonkansas.com.

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