The agreement still has to go to three other taxing agencies, but the Augusta City Council voted unanimously to extend the Neighborhood Revitalization Program for one more year in its current state.
The NRP is an interlocal agreement that would have to have approval by the Butler County Commissioners, Butler Community College and USD 402 School Board to have its full effect.
Currently, the program offers a 95 percent rebate of property taxes for new construction or renovation of homes in Augusta. That rebate is good for 10 years for homes and businesses built south of Kelly Ave. and five years for development north of Kelly Ave. The rebate covers the first $200,000 of residential construction and the first $500,000 of commercial property.
Even if the other taxing agencies don’t participate, the city can still refund its portion of the property taxes.
Several developers, builders and Realtors were in attendance Monday night to support the program’s passage.
Both Mark McCollom and Denise Rockers wrote letters for the council’s consideration asking for the program to be extended.
“I have been contemplating several different building projects that would possibly encourage growth in Augusta,” McCollom said. “The only way to complete them in a successful manner that would allow me to market them reasonably is to use the Revitalization program in the equation.”
Rockers said the NRP is something Realtors have at their disposal to “sweeten the deal” for people on the fence about moving to Augusta.
“It is very difficult to sell new homes in Augusta, especially those in the upper price range,” Rockers said. “The NRP is definitely an incentive for people to consider.”
Randy Johnson has been the developer on several projects south of Kelly that included taking older, damaged homes and replacing them with new construction.
“I would even like to see it extended for more than one year so that people can plan for the future,” Johnson said.
The council didn’t express any interest in a long-term deal primarily because the county commissioners have expressed concerns about many of the NRP plans passed by other communities recently.
Realtor Mark Sudduth told the council the NRP was a success story for Augusta.
“The NRP south of Kelly may be the smartest thing this council has ever done,” Sudduth said. Sudduth said that the construction and development industry in Augusta would have been minimal without the NRP. With the NRP, the projects continued to be built despite an economic downturn.
Councilor Matt Malone said he thought it would be foolish not to extend the program at least one more year, but he asked those in attendance not to count on the program lasting forever.
Page 2 of 2 - “I would be surprised if it continued this way next year,” Malone said. “I would at least expect changes.”
Matt Childers said he had changed his mind during the meeting.
“I cam here intent on supporting the program south of Kelly but ready to do away with the program north of Kelly,” Councilor Childers said. “ From what I have seen, it has made a major difference. I think it is worth extending it one more year to sustain growth.”
The council voted unanimously to continue for one more year. They also approved a resolution seeking participation from the other three agencies in the program.