Column: Single-family housing development needs incentives

by Murrel Bland

Wyandotte County is not attracting its share of new single-family home construction.

That was the message that builders and developers delivered at recent meetings of the Economic Development and Public Works standing committees of the Unified Commission.

Rusty Roberts, a builder-developer and chairman of the housing committee for Business West, told the members of the standing committees that Wyandotte County has about 8 percent of the area’s population, but only about 4 percent of the area’s new single-family home permits.

Statistics from the Homebuilders Association of Greater Kansas City reported that 4220 permits were issued for new single-family homes in Greater Kansas City during 2014; however, Wyandotte County only had 181 of those permits. Those numbers show increases when compared to 2013 when 4087 permits were issued in Greater Kansas City compared to 160 in Wyandotte County.

Roberts said that high property taxes in Wyandotte County discourage people from buying homes here compared to neighboring areas such as Basehor, Western Shawnee or Parkville.

Roberts cited an example of what taxes would be on a $265,000 home in the Piper community compared to the same home in Basehor. The tax rate in Piper is about $174 a thousand compared to about $140 a thousand in Basehor. That could amount to about $27,000 more for a Piper resident during the life of a 30-year mortgage, Roberts said.

“All units of government must become more efficient managers,” Roberts said. He said this is consistent with long-term goals of Business West that has encouraged public officials to hold the line on property taxes.

“Short-term, the Unified Commission needs to extend incentives by waiving sewer hook-up and building fees,” Roberts said. “This has helped some, but Wyandotte County still needs this incentive gain its rightful place in attracting the single-family housing market.”

Roberts said the cost of this incentive, estimated at $100,000 for 2015, would be recouped quickly with property taxes of about 25 new homes.

The Unified Commission will consider waiving the sewer hook-up and building fees for 2015 when it meets at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 5, at City Hall.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of The Wyandotte West and The Piper Press. He is the executive director of Business West.

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