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Local

Council to review Newton’s housing initiative

Public works and community services fee changes also on docket

City council members will review a resolution proposing to amend and extend the city's housing initiative, which is used to increase the home construction market in Newton.
City council members will review a resolution proposing to amend and extend the city's housing initiative, which is used to increase the home construction market in Newton.

Council members will review changes to the city’s housing incentive program — which is designed to increase the home construction market in Newton — during its meeting Monday night. The Newton City Council will also decide whether to extend the initiative until Dec. 31, 2021.

The amended Newton Housing Initiative to be evaluated by council eliminates the waived or reduced permit fees and construction loan interests for builders. This updated initiative also changes the home buyer cash incentives.

Instead of offering buyers $10,00 cash for purchasing a singe-family spec or custom home valued at $160,000 or more, the city and Newton Housing Development Corporation (NHDC) would provide two different cash values depending on the property valuation.

If a home valued between $100,000 and $179,999.99 is purchased, buyers will receive $5,000. Likewise, if a home is valued above $180,000, buyers will receive a $10,000 incentive.

Originally approved by the city council in 2014, the Newton Housing Initiative was supported by $3.65 million in bonds and subsequently increased the city’s housing stock, Newton Daily News previously reported.

The funding source for the program is provided for by existing housing initiative and 2017A bonds, according to the Newton City Council agenda.

Fee schedule changes

City staff have recommended the Newton City Council approve updated fee schedules for public works and community services departments.

Various fees charged at Westwood Golf Course, Maytag Pool, parks shelters and fields, municipal cemeteries and nuisance abatement fees are reviewed each year by staff.

At the Nov. 20 Newton Park Board meeting, members of the board reviewed the proposed golf, parks and swimming pool fees and recommended that council approve the changes.

Intergovernmental Transfer Agreement

The Newton City Council will decide whether to authorize the Newton Fire Department to enter into an Intergovernmental Transfer Agreement with the Iowa Department of Human Services to utilize a particular program.

According to the city council agenda, the Ground Emergency Medical Transport (GEMT) “is a supplemental reimbursement program from the federal government addressing shortfalls in reimbursement of services for Medicaid patients.”

The program was made possible from legislation passed in 2018. If approved, the city will be able to request supplemental reimbursement from July 1 onward for an estimated $200,000 in revenue for fiscal year 2019-20.

Amendment to urban revitalization plan

Changes to the City-Wide Urban Revitalization Plan will be considered by the Newton City Council.

On Oct. 21, a public hearing was held so council could review the amended plan, which “provides for the eligibility of tax abatement for improvements to residential, multi-residential and industrial property across the city.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or cbraunschweig@newtondailynews.com

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