At the last city commission meeting, the most controversial action taken by the commission was the creation of an incentive program for home builders.

Under the proposal, the city will provide qualified home builders up to $10,000 per dwelling unit to assist with interest payments on construction loans for single-family, duplex or triplex units. The city will allocate $100,000 to the program. In addition, the city agrees that for any new home under construction, the builder will not be charged for sewer service, will be charged only for the water used rather than a minimum charge, and will not be charged for trash/recycling service unless the builder requests it.

The hope is for more housing starts. According to Realtors at the meeting that day, there has been just one so far this year.

The reaction was predictable: members of the public asking questions like "so nothing for the average Joe, just the builders?" 

The answer there is "kind of." While there is not a financial consideration for the buyer, it does, if it works, mean there will be a new home to buy.

The commission moved forward with this proposal on a 3-2 vote. That split vote is important because it shows two things. 

First, it shows this was a controversial move. Each commissioner had talked with members of the public at large about this idea. They heard from their constituents and the city residents, and interpreted what they heard before making a final decision and casting a vote. 

Second, it shows the health of this commission. Commissioners are sticking with their convictions — which should be lauded no matter which side of an issue you are on — and they are not casting a vote of yes just to make the commission appear united. That is a common practice on local boards.

The commissioners respect each other and their individual opinions held. With each new sticky wicket, they work through the issue with that respect observed.


— Kansan Editorial Board