Archive for Thursday, September 21, 2000

Lots of talk, little action for revitalization district

September 21, 2000

There has been a lot of interest, but the city of DeSoto hasn't had an application for its new property tax rebate program, city zoning and planning coordinator Jane Gordanier said.

The Historical Downtown DeSoto Revitalization District became effective Sept. 1. As its name suggests, the district comprises DeSoto's historic center. It is bound by the river on the north, Kaw Avenue on the east and Lakeview Drive on the west. Lexington Avenue makes up most of its southern boundary, but the line goes north to 84th Street at Kickapoo Street.

The goal of the revitalization project is to encourage investment within the district by offering tax rebates on improvements to residential and commercial properties, Gordanier said.

To be eligible, residential and commercial projects must increase a property's assessed valuation by at least 5 percent. It is not available for vacant lots and properties on which property taxes are owed.

Residential property owners with approved projects will receive a rebate from the Johnson County Treasurer's Office for five years for the amount of taxes paid on the improvements. Commercial property will receive the rebate for 10 years.

That part is easy. Determining which projects qualify might be more difficult.

While it wouldn't be a concern on large projects, Gordanier said neither the city nor the Johnson County Appraiser's Office would estimate if a project meets the 5-percent standard.

In a worst-case scenario, a property owner would fill out an application and make an improvement, only to find out it didn't improve the assessed value of a home or business by the required 5 percent.

If it looks close, Gordanier suggested property owners consider adding other improvements. Multiple improvements made to a property during a calendar year will be considered as one project.

A limitation on the number of times a property is eligible for the rebate adds another incentive for property owners to consider making as many improvements as possible at one time. Commercial properties can only be accepted once during the district's 10-year life, and residential properties are only eligible once during a 5-year period.

She also cautioned that the tax rebate is not available for maintenance projects.

"That's the biggest thing," she said. "People need to be careful. I've had people call and say 'I'm going to paint my house.' That's just maintenance."

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