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Council takes action on several items to promote housing
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In other business Monday night, the Great Bend City Council:
• Held a budget hearing for the 2015 budget. This was followed by the approval of the 2015 budget ordinance.
• Adopted a GAAP (generally accepted accounting principles) waiver resolution. This waiver is requested each year as preparing the reports in conformity with the requirements of state statutes is not relevant to the requirements of the cash basis and budget laws, and are of no significant value to the council or general public.
• Heard an update from Community Coordinator Christina Hayes. She outlined what she termed a very successful Party in the Park with participation doubling for many of the activities. More on this will be reported in the Wednesday Great Bend Tribune.
• Approved an ordinance raising the city’s sewer rates. The ordinance adjusts rates up 15 percent as was discussed at the council’s budget work session in July. The last rate revision was in 2008. 
The increase is needed to pay for costly new water treatment plant equipment, replacement of sewer lines and general maintenance of the system. There is no water rate increase planned at this time.
• Approved a salary resolution. The resolution adjusts the ranges at both the top and bottom for all city positions. It adds 16 percent to the top range and 12 percent to the bottom.
Four years ago, the city undertook an extensive salary review in an effort to make salaries more competitive. At the time, the council agreed to revisit the issue in four years. Monday’s action is a result of that second look.
• Approved abating property at 1715 Heizer, owned by Julio Cesar Palacio, for a motor vehicle nuisance.
• Approved changing the date of the next council meeting due to the Labor Day holiday. The meeting will be held at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 3, instead of Monday, Sept. 1.
• Heard an update on departmental activities from City Administrator Howard Partington.

Several steps were taken Monday night to move along the development of the new apartment complex on Grant Street, known as the Reserves at Trail Ridge. The action came during the Great Bend City Council meeting.
First, a public hearing was held to consider the creation of a Rural Housing Incentive District for project. However, the hearing had to be adjourned until the Sept. 3 meeting since some details remained to be ironed out before the RHID ordinance was ready for the council’s approval. 
“We can see the finish line,” said Matt Gillam, vice president of development for Leawood-based Overland Property Group which is developing the complex. “We’re almost there.”
Gillam said they hope to start construction on phase one of the project within the next two months with it being ready for residents by May 2015, weather permitting. The first phase includes 48 apartments.
The $7-8 million complex will be located on the west side of Grant Street across from Wal-Mart. The apartments are considered income-qualified housing.
The first phase of this facility will feature a clubhouse with amenities such as a fitness facility, barbecue and picnic area, paved walking paths, children’s playground and sports court.
Overland Property Group has been awarded tax credits by Kansas Housing Resources Corporation for part one. Credits for the second phase, which includes 48 more apartments, would require separate approval, Gillam said. However, he anticipates the first 48 units filling up almost immediately demonstrating the massive housing shortage in Great Bend.
“I believe 96 units is barely scratching the surface of what Great Bend needs,” Gillam said. So, the tax credits should be easier to get.
The developer still has to acquire the land for phase two.
An RHID is a Kansas Department of Commerce program designed to aid developers by assisting in the financing through tax credits. RHIDs are available for any small- to medium-sized city in Kansas, and Great Bend’s application was approved in December.
In a matter related to the project, the council OKed a rezoning request made by the Meier Family Revocable Trust. This changes the property just north of the Comfort Inn from C-2 (commercial) to R-3 (residential - multi-family).
This will allow for the apartment development.