Revitalization plan fleshed out

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Jeff Bauer, Iola’s code enforcement officer, laid out plans for a new Neighborhood Revitalization Program in Iola for Allen County commissioners Tuesday morning.
The current three-year plan, covering downtown, property along State Street and an area in east Iola, expires May 31.
The new program will cover most of the city, ranging from Spruce Street north to Buchanan and Carpenter and from city limit to city limit east to west. The goal is remodeling of blighted homes and replacement of dilapidated buildings. City Administrator Judy Brigham said older neighborhoods were included, but not newer areas to the north, because the city did not want to encourage “doughnut” development, which would leave a core of older homes ignored while tax incentives prompted development on the perimeter.
“We want investment in the inner core as well as on the outskirts,” Bauer said.
The proposed incentive is full tax abatement on added value for six years, followed by amortization of taxes by 80, 60, 40 and 20 percent the following four years. A key to the program is having all taxing units — city, county, college and school district — sign on.
In the past year, the city approved tax vacations for three properties outside the present district, causing jurisdictional conflict with the county.
McIntosh and Francis said they thought the larger zone was more practical, but want a “clear ordinance” defining acceptable exceptions to the new boundaries. County commissioners said they wouldn’t sign on to the new program until that issue was resolved.
Brigham assured them, saying “We’ll talk with Chuck (Apt, city attorney) this afternoon.”
“We’re not asking for you to sign on with the program today,” Bauer told commissioners.
City commissioners barely touched on the issue Tuesday, enough to schedule a public hearing May 12 to hear conerns.