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‘First Impression’ provides valuable input for Hoisington
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To the editor:

Last fall, Hoisington was invited to participate in a Kansas State University Extension program “First Impressions.” Kingman was participating and Hoisington was considered a comparative community. Teams from each community made a quick tour of the other city and shared their first impressions. The Hoisington City Council heard the report from KSU Extension Agent Jan Steen at Monday night’s meeting.

As a member of the audience, I was not surprised by the first impressions such as finding it a clean and friendly community or noting the number of empty storefronts on Main Street. The team was impressed by Clara Barton Medical Center, the pro-like football field, and especially by the metal art found downtown.

What caught my attention was the Hoisington demographics Mr. Steen shared. Not surprisingly, Hoisington has a larger elderly population than the Kansas average. Also, around 21% of the population does not engage with the internet in any way, shape, or form. Finally, the average income of Hoisington residents is around $48,000 versus the Kansas average of $60,000 plus. As you can imagine, the poverty rate in Hoisington is higher than the State average.

Mr. Steen asked the Council to use the information for future planning for the City. Freshening up the Welcome signs and the City webpage can be done fairly easily. The housing problem identified by the team is a bit more of an issue.

Affordable housing is based on several factors. First, is the original cost of the building. Second, is the insurance rates for the structures. Mr. Steen noted that Police and Fire Protection were readily available to satisfy most insurance companies. Third, city utility costs also are a factor. The Council heard a report last fall about utility fees for the City. The report found that, if rates from last year along with annual increases continued, the fund reserves would be over the recommended amounts. I do not know if the Council has worked to reduce those fees to generate the recommended revenue. If so, that is one step to making housing affordable in Hoisington.

Finally, property taxes are another cost of owning property. Remember, this cost is figured into rent, so even those who do not own property still pay this tax.

The City is starting its budget process. One of the major decisions for the Council is to remain revenue-neutral. This means that they will make do with the same amount of tax dollars as they generated last year. The County Commission has already announced that they will. I urge the Hoisington City Council to do the same. Otherwise, Hoisington may well have the most expensively taxed housing in the County.

Melissa Nech