City disbands board

By DAWNE LEIKER

dleiker@dailynews.net

Hays city commissioners Thursday unanimously approved disbanding the city's Neighborhood Revitalization/Downtown Development Review Board.

The necessity for the board, which was created nearly 10 years ago to provide oversight for the city's Neighborhood Revitalization District, has diminished since its formation.

"The need for the board was lessened several years ago," City Manager Toby Dougherty said. "And the board rarely meets anymore.There really hasn't been any reason for them to meet."

The city of Hays adopted the original Neighborhood Revitalization Plan, which promotes development and redevelopment in the southwest portion of the city for qualified improvements, on Jan. 1, 2001.

Tax abatements, effective for 10 years, apply only to the increase in appraised value of the property based on improvements made.

Controls over revitalization processes are subject to state and federal statutes due to the fact the area is designated as a historic district.

"From a staff standpoint, any application that goes through this has to be in compliance with state statutes, and there's really not much wiggle room on that," Dougherty said. "It's reviewed by city staff for compliance assurance and then it goes to the county and the county staff ensures compliance."

The Neighborhood Revitalization Program has benefited the downtown area, according to Commissioner Henry Schwaller IV.

"It was a very helpful tool 10 years ago for getting property owners to revitalize their buildings," he said. "And it resulted in millions of dollars of private dollars being invested in these businesses, which was very important."

The tax rebate program is available to commercial and residential properties. The minimum project investment is $5,000 for a residential and $15,000 for a commercial property.

In other business, commissioners:

* Voted to designate Commissioner Kent Steward as a representative of the city of Hays on the Ellis County Coalition for Economic Development Board.