Archive for Thursday, August 9, 2001

City tax rebate program has no takers

August 9, 2001

Nearly a year after it became effective, the city of De Soto hasn't had an application for a property tax rebate program.

City zoning and planning coordinator Jane Gordanier said the Historical Downtown De Soto Revitalization District became effective Sept. 1, 2000. As its name suggests, the district comprises De Soto's historic center. It is bounded 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.

"It's been disappointing," Gordanier said. "I've had some interest. I've given out applications, but no one has returned one yet."

The revitalization program's goal 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 they paid on the improvements. Commercial property will receive the rebate for 10 years.

The abatement is not applicable for routine maintenance projects like painting, she said. Inquiries into other projects that could have qualified were made too late, she said.

"They called after they started projects," she said. "Application has to be made before the projects are started."

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.

Gordanier suggested property owners might want to give the rebate a shot even if the city and county can't answer all their questions.

"I would encourage residents to make an application before they start a project," she said. "If they can get some dollars taken off their taxes, it's worth a shot."

Applications to the program can be obtained at City Hall, the De Soto Multi-Service Center and at local banks and realtors.

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