Sidewalk repair program disbursing funds

Chad Frey
The Kansan
City of Newton, Kansas.

The city of Newton has been processing applications for a new sidewalk repair rebate program — a program rebooted earlier this year after a massive increase in complaints to the city environmental office. 

The city commission approved a new assistance program — a program dead since 2009 — after a there were 100 complaints of sidewalks in disrepair investigated by the City of Newton.  The three previous years totaled 57 complaints. 

Since applications for the program, which will offer rebates on cited sidewalks from the 2020 and 2021 calendar years, the city has processed  32 applications. Of those, 31 were from citations in 2020 and 22 were owner-occupied homes. Ten rental properties have applied for funds. 

The average rebate per property, according to city manager Kelly McElroy, is $537. 

"It is becoming a very popular program," McElroy said. 

Each property owner approved for the program is eligible to a city-issued rebate of up to $3.50 per square foot of sidewalk repaired or replaced, with a maximum of  $800. A corner lot with a sidewalk along both streets could be eligible for up to $1,600.

In February, the commission set aside $150,000 ($75,000 for 2020 and $75,000 for 2021) through 2021 from a capital reserve account to start the program. Those funds were received from special assessment payments from a suspended sidewalk repair program in 2007 through 2009.

Only property owners who receive official notice from the city in 2020 and 2021 to make repairs to their sidewalks are eligible for the program. The rebates will be available on a first-come, first-served basis only until the budgeted funds are exhausted.

Under state statute, it’s the responsibility of the adjacent property owner to keep public sidewalks in good repair and free of trip hazards. The city generally enforces sidewalk violations when a resident submits a complaint about a particular area.

The application and more information is available online at www.newtonkansas.com/sidewalks or at the third-floor reception desk at City Hall. For more information, contact the Office of Revitalization and Preservation at 316-284-6001 or hp@newtonkansas.com.

Applications for the city’s new Sidewalk Repair Rebate Program are now available for residents who received sidewalk violation notices in 2020 and 2021.