Noting that the program is an asset to economic development efforts locally, the Great Bend City Council Monday night approved reapplying for the Neighborhood Revitalization program.
The action, made at the request of Central Kansas Development Inc., reversed a decision made by the council last October to allow the tax incentive program to expire at the end of last year. City officials feared legislative changes in the state property tax lid could erase any benefit it may have for the city.
This had come to the attention of the CKDI board that the plan expired, said CKDI Board President Barry Bowers. “We weren’t aware of that.”
So, he and the board of CKDI urged the council to take action to reinstate this occasionally used program so incentives are available for future investments in our community. “It’s one of the few tools we have. It’s small, but very, very important.”
This Kansas Department of Commerce program is designed to give property owners the opportunity to receive a tax rebate on the additional property taxes that might be incurred as a result of constructing new buildings or making improvements to existing ones. Depending on the program, the rebates can be offered for five or 10 years.
It covers residential, commercial and industrial structures. Certain areas had been in a 10-year rebate area while the remaining properties in the city were in a five-year rebate area.
City Administrator Howard Partington said that unless the state amends the tax lid, it may be difficult for the city to recoup money lost to the rebates in the future.
In the end Monday, the council directed City Attorney Bob Suelter draw up the paperwork with the intent of the program to last 10 years. The next steps are for the council to pass resolution on the matter at next meeting and setting a public hearing date.
The council will have the opportunity to make changes at that time. Ultimately, the Kansas Attorney General’s Office has to sign off on the plan.
A good move
Bowers said his board sees Neighborhood Revitalization Plan as a “win, win.” It helps the City of Great Bend build its tax base, it encourages property owners in improving their property and it assists new and expanding business locate in our community.
“It’s a fair credit,” he said.
“We believe the Neighborhood Revitalization Plan has been a key component of many of the additions and improvements made in Great Bend over the past 10 years,” he said. “We understand implementation of the program is fairly involved, so we would recommend that it be approved for 5-7 years at a time to ease the burden of renewal.”
Bowers said CKDI has been a part of the economic development in this area since 1958 and knows how important incentives like this program are when a business is looking to locate here or considering expansion. “Many if not all of the communities we compete with have the program in place, leaving Great Bend at a competitive disadvantage as we head into this new year.”
He mentioned Garden City and Hays. “We want to be on an even field.”
The CKDI Board sees no down side to renewing this program and only negative consequences by not getting it back in place quickly, he said.