Commissioners reconsider Neighborhood Revitalization Program

Marion County commissioners talked about discontinuing part or all of its Neighborhood Revitalization Program at the June 30 payday meeting, but no decisions were made.

Commission Chair Randy Dallke said when the program was set up, it was to encourage businesses and people outside to move here.

“But that hasn’t happened,” Dallke said. “We have more than 300 properties in the program, and $200,000 is paid out each year in tax rebates.”

Commissioner Kent Becker asked if all of those new homes weren’t dictated because of one or more firms moving into Marion County.

“If we have seen an up­tick in commercial (NRP) applications that translated into more homes being built, then that would be great,” he said, “but I’m not hearing that.”

Dallke said the board needs to make a decision.

“This (program) has been lingering for a year, and maybe we can decide to move on with it,” he said.

Commissioner Dianne Novak said she would be in favor of doing away with the residential part of the program.

“The commercial part is another deal,” she said. “We are trying to bring businesses into Marion County because we can benefit from that if it creates jobs.”

Becker said if jobs were created, it would have a domino effect, setting off a chain of successive events to include new homes.

County Clerk Tina Spencer offered background information about the NRP, and said would be willing to pull together additional information as needed.

Surveys were sent in 2015 asking people who built a new home if they would have done it whether this program was available or not, Spencer said.

“A majority of those surveyed said they would still have built,” she said. “At one time I had all the minutes and documentation available and can put it together again.”

Novak said past commissioners tried to stimulate the business economy by putting the NRP into effect, but it the results weren’t what the board anticipated.

“We have had multiple conversations about this,” Spencer said. “But we have two new commissioners (referring to Novak and Becker, who might want more information).”

Becker said he would be interested in seeing how many new commercial applications were submitted in the past five years.

“(The program) may need to be abandoned,” Becker said. “The information is important in making a decision.”

Spencer said a survey also was sent in October 2015 to the taxing entities, because it affects tax dollars for those districts, too.

“They (school and fire districts) can opt in or out,” she said.

Spencer noted that new houses are still being built, and when they come on the tax rolls, it will help the county’s valuation.

Dallke said it is important to make a decision.

“We were tying up tax dollars for quite awhile when it was a 10-year plan, but then shortened the program to five years in 2011,” he said.

In addition, the paperwork tracking 10 years of NRP residential is a lot of work for the appraiser’s office, and that is only the first stop, Dallke said. From there, it goes to the offices of the treasurer and clerk.

The commissioners agreed to review information about the program at the July 10 meeting, and might make a decision at that time.

Other business

In other business, the commissioners:

• reappointed Susan Robson as county counselor through the end of 2017, and will review the position at that time.

• spoke with Courtney Boehm, county attorney, regarding a conflict Robson has regarding a condemnation on Valley Road. After discussing the issue with Boehm, Dallke requested not to retain Boehm as a private attorney with the Cottonwood Law Group.

• agreed to an executive session with Marion County Economic Development Corp. members Russell Grove and Jim Hefley for 20 minutes to discuss trade secrets.

• reappointed Brian Frese to continue as the interim appraiser until a permanent appraiser can be hired. The reappointment is not to exceed 90 days.

• approved Cottonwood Valley Bank as the financing agency for two 2018 International dump trucks at a cost of $146,998 with the bank charging 2.271 percent APR. Other bidders: Citizens State Bank, Goessel; Tampa State Bank, Marion, Hillsboro State Bank, Hillsboro, Central National Bank, Marion, Emprise Bank, Hillsboro and Marion National Bank, Hillsboro.

• heard from Emma Tajchman, planning and zoning director, regarding the air conditioning unit in the Main Street building. It was recommended by a repair technician to purchase an new unit. Until a decision is reached, staff members are using the smaller offices to remain cool.

• tabled a preliminary agreement between the Road and Bridge department and APAC regarding short sections of overlay previously approved.

• went into executive session with EMS Director Ed Debesis to discuss personnel performance. Debesis said the service had 111 ambulance runs with the city of Marion high at 58 runs.