City, metro housing starts remain in doldrums
With just more than three months left in the year, the city of De Soto has issued four permits for new single family homes in 2009.
City building inspector Steve Chick said there was some encouraging signs behind the dismal numbers. All the permits were issued since June, he said.
At the start of the year, he predicted the city would see from seven to nine housing starts, Chick said. That could still happen should builders and residents follow up on expressed intentions, he said.
De Soto’s continued residential construction doldrums reflect metropolitan and national trends. According to a report from Home Builders Association of Greater Kansas City released last week, the metropolitan area is on pace to record its worst year in new home construction since the association starting tracking numbers in the 1970s.
There were 1,335 permits issued through in the metro the first eight months of 2009. The worst pervious year was 1981, when 2,430 permits were issued.
The association does report that August was the best month of new home starts since November 2008. But it also reports the 192 new single family home permits issued last month in the metropolitan area was 34 percent lower than those issued last August. From 2003 to 2008, an average of 762 permits where issued in last full summer month.
In a move meant to help developers, the De Soto City Council in January agreed to allow a developer pay half the excise tax owed on development with the application for final plat and remaining half when application for a fifth building permit was made.
The ordinance also allows a developer to request delaying payment of the first 50 percent of the excise tax until application for the first building permit was made.
The city charges a 19 cent per square foot excise tax on new construction to pay for improvements to city arterial streets.
The January modification to the excise tax was made at the request of Bill Thompson, the developer of the 62-home Cherokee West subdivision. However, the change hasn’t been enough to spur building at that site or any of the city’s other active subdivisions.
This month, Phil Hileman requested the city council forego the excise tax on a lot split he proposes for his property in eastern De Soto. He told the council he planned to build a smaller home for him and his wife and his son would move into his home.
Hileman suggested the council consider a moratorium on its excise tax as a way to spur development during the recession and housing slump.
The consideration of the suggestion ended when City Attorney Pat Reavey researched a measure passed in the 2006 legislative session that said the Legislature would have to approve new excise tax measures or increases enacted by the state’s cities. Restarting the tax after the moratorium would require legislative action, Reavey said.
Mayor David Anderson said if the council was interested in helping those in Hileman‘s position to help spur housing starts, it could consider relaxing development fees, such as it agreed to for the Glavin Development senior housing complex proposed for Lexington Avenue.