Augusta City Manager Josh Shaw spoke with the Butler Community College Board of Trustees

In order to clarify some key points of the Augusta’s Neighborhood Revitalization Plan, City Manager Josh Shaw spoke with the Butler Community College Board of Trustees on Tuesday evening.
“It’s not a simple program to understand,” began Shaw. “It’s something that is available to all cities in the state of Kansas. Augusta began utilizing the program in 2003. It is a tax  rebate program. The city designates a certain area of the city as a revitalization area. If the property owners wish to qualify for the program, they can do so in several ways: they can complete a rehab of a property, a new addition, or even a new building. They would then receive a tax rebate on the added value of the home. It is not an incentive so to speak, they have to pay their taxes first and if they qualify for the program, they can get a certain amount back.”
The program has changed over the past several years.
“The program is only applied to half the town – the older neighborhoods,” he explained. “The past couple years, we expanded the area to envelop most of the town and we included new construction in the plan. Since that time, we have been watching everything. We even reached a point where there were zero new home starts in the city. This year, we have scaled back the area considerably. This program is not meant to be a redevelopment tool. The area now covers almost two-thirds of the community.”
Shaw then took the time to further explain the eligibility criteria for the program.
“The plan now states: construction of new residential infrastructures shall be eligible but new constructions are not. We worded it in such a way so that a building can be torn down in a blighted area and they will qualify if a new home is built. This year’s program is very different from previous year’s programs. “
Trustee Dr. Greg Joyce questioned whether there was a cap on the amount for this year’s program.
“There’s a cap to the new construction,” explained Shaw. “The cap for the renovation for the residential homes is $200,000 in added value and the commercial is $500,000. We’ve had a couple commercial properties that have been built recently. If they renovate a million dollar store, they’re only able to get a rebate on the first $500,000. That’s about the highest amounts we’ll see in this blighted area and the industrial park was always was excluded.”
“This year, this is a fair program,” said Trustees Secretary Candace Kunkel. “These homes are at least 30 years old and if you go south of Kelly, it needs all the revitalization it can get. I totally agree with it this year.”
“Our old hospital qualified for the program and now it’s a brand new space,” said Shaw. “They qualified for the $500,000 cap and now it is back in working order and  being used as office space.”
“As we make this decision,” began Trustee Tom McKibban, “I think we should get some information on the other programs we have endorsed. I think this board should do the same things for all the cities and let the cities know what we will accept. That way, we will not show an advantage for El Dorado, Augusta or Andover.”
Joyce moved to approve Augusta’s Neighborhood Revitalization Plan and the motion was carried 5-0.