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Larned's 'Dream Homes' secures affordable housing
Tax rebate program also works
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LARNED — Two housing projects were spotlighted during a recent Larned city council meeting.
The Larned Dream Homes Affordable Housing Project has built six affordable family houses that has enhanced the local housing market, according to Don Gaeddert, Larned city manager. The city of Larned purchased the properties and the Larned Housing Authority used tax credits to assist with the project.
“It’s created six houses in different parts of Larned that will be rented for 15 years before being sold to low-income citizens,” Gaeddert said. “We’ve had a full year of tenancy. It’s been a successful program that has helped the housing market.”
Mesner Development Company, Central City, Neb., performed the application process and financing work. Mesner has done work with Housing Opportunities, Inc., Great Bend, for projects in Barton and Pawnee counties. The North Glen duplex and Walnut Creek duplex are Great Bend projects.
Kathy Mesner, Mesner president, said the company gets paid for developing and financing the projects, which improve local housing.
“There is not a city that can’t utilize affordable housing for low-income tenants,” she said. “I’ve done this work for 20 years because I love doing it.”  
The houses, were built at a cost of more than $140,000, according to Mesner. They are rented for $350 to $450 per month. 
• Tax Rebate Program
The city’s Tax Rebate Program, another housing related-related project, has also paid dividends, according to Gaeddert. The Neighborhood Revitalization program gives homeowners and property owners incentive to improve their property with a portion of their taxes rebated for five years for the city of Larned, Pawnee County and USD 495. The property owner is required to apply for the tax rebates before they begin construction. 
“If the improvements cause an increased value in property taxes, you apply for a rebate and the city, county and school district  will rebate a portion of those taxes, for five years,” Gaeddert said. “The program has been very successful.”
Gaeddert said a 2010 survey indicated that $37,000 in taxes were rebated. But the increased in assessed value ($657,000) will eventually benefit the taxing agencies with more revenue after five years.
• Junior City Council
The Larned city council recognized long-time Larned Junior City Council organizers Jim Forrest and Judy Jennings for their work over the past 11 years. Forrest and Jennings guide a group of sixth-graders into learning about various aspects of city government throughout the school year. Students apply through a competitive process to be selected that includes writing an essay that is judged by Larned High School National Honor Society members.
“It’s a great volunteer project that educates our future leaders about different aspects of city government,” Gaeddert said.