City crafting revitalization plan
The Tonganoxie City Council is crafting a revitalization plan that would help encourage investment in the older sections of the city.
The plan would allow property tax rebates on the improvements made to properties in the district. The proposed Tonganoxie plan would provide residential property owners 95 percent-rebates of property taxes owed for increased value on improvements of at least $5,000 for the first three years and 50-percent rebates on the next two years. Commercial property owners would qualify for the same but would need a minimum investment of $15,000.
The minimum investment for all new construction would be $200,000.
The case for revitilization
The following statistics were included in the proposed Tonganoxie revitalization plan:
• 39 percent of housing was built before 1960.
• All downtown buildings are more than 40 years old.
• More than 50 percent of commercial buildings in Tonganoxie are 50 years old with some dating back more than 100 years.
The plan would expire Jan. 1, 2016, but the city council would have the option of extending the plan to Jan. 1, 2020.
The core of the revitalization district would include most of a large swath through the center of the city from First Street south to Washington Street. That would, of course, include the downtown business district and the U.S. Highway 24/40 corridor.
Newer subdivisions would be excluded.
The Tonganoxie plan is being crafted as some members of the Leavenworth County Commission are questioning the value to the county of revitalization plans in Lansing and Basehor. Last week, Commissioner J.C. Tellefson criticized the those plans as not addressing blight or the renewal of older neighborhoods. He noted improvements made in “cornfields” slated for development were eligible for rebates in Basehor.
The Tonganoxie plan, like that of the Leavenworth plan Tellefson likes, is more directed at investment in older neighborhoods.
Tonganoxie City Administrator Mike Yanez said the city council addressed incentives for new development with a program to forego permit fees for the first 10 homes built in the city this year.
The city council tweaked the proposed revitalization plan March 22 work session. Among the details agreed to at that time were to make the rebates available to new construction as well as renovations, to allow attached and detached garages eligible for the program. It was also agreed rebates would stay with the properties if it transferred ownership.
The proposed plan was sent to Tonganoxie USD 464 and the county for their review. After the council approves a resolution, those two jurisdictions would be asked enter into interlocal agreements that would extend the tax rebates on their property taxes, as well.