Grant would enhance rental opportunities



August 13, 2013 - 12:00 AM

HUMBOLDT — Humboldt Council members approved application for a Community Development Block Grant that would enhance the town’s housing stock.
The grant would pay 75 percent of improvements to privately owned rental properties.
Susan Galemore, Southeast Kansas Regional Planning Commission, will help with application for a grant of $170,000 from the Kansas Department of Commerce. Property owners — six having 10 properties have been identified — would put up another $45,000.
The planning commission’s stake in the grant would be its management.
“You have terribly stiff competition,” Galemore cautioned. However, Councilman Jerry Stephens said, “nothing ventured, nothing gained.”
Provisions of the grant include improvements to foundations, roofs, electrical systems and plumbing, but no cosmetic features, Galemore said. Also, once completed units must be offered to low- to medium-income families, which would include most of those working in Humboldt.
For Kansas, a family of four is considered low income at $44,150 by federal standards.
“It’s a win-win for us,” said Mayor Nobby Davis. “We’re not out any money.”
City Administrator Larry Tucker said members of the Housing Action Team continued to look at ways to increase housing opportunities in Humboldt.
“A survey found that 35 percent of the people who drive into Humboldt to work would move here if housing were available,” he said.
The team’s latest strategy, he added, is to look into grants to rehabilitate older homes.

IN TWO expenditure items, council members approved purchase of a 2013 Ford four-wheel-drive pickup truck for the police department, for $20,708.03 through the Kansas Partners Program, which makes vehicles available to governmental agencies.
Chief of Police Brian Dillow said the truck retailed for $34,000.
It will replace a 2005 Dodge pickup with 88,000 miles, which will be retained and used in the city’s code enforcement department.
Repair of the old city hall’s roof will cost $3,750, with most of the money coming from insurance proceeds from when roofs of city buildings were damaged by storms. Tucker said he city recently received an additional $17,451.49 from its insurance carrier, Personal Service Insurance.
The old city hall is used as a business incubator, with Weide Funeral Services its current occupant. The company pays no rent the first year and only a portion of utilities.
Tucker said several leaks showed up in the old city hall’s roof with recent rains.
Chip-and-seal improvements will be done to some streets, probably Eighth and Pine, Tucker said, with just $50,000 available for street maintenance. Allen County helps each year with the work.

WITH NO public comment, council members approved the city’s 2014 budget, which includes a property tax levy of 75.590. This year’s levy is 72.176 mills.
Tucker said the new levy would increase taxes on a home valued at $50,000 by $20 a year.
Net expenditures in 2014 are pegged at $2,943,061. This year’s are $2,903,474.

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