USD 489 Board discusses Rural Housing Incentive District


Doug Williams, executive director of Grow Hays, presented to the USD 489 School Board on Monday regarding a new Rural Housing Incentive District.

On July 28, the Hays City Commission approved a Rural Housing Incentive District for a 36-unit apartment complex at 4th and Fort Street.  

“Just to refresh your memories, the way an RHID works – it allows a developer to recoup the tax increment that is created by their development until such time that they’ve recovered some of their development costs,” Williams said. 

Williams used the RHID development east of North Kansas Technical College as an example. 

Before development, it was a green wheat field, generating about $100 a year in property taxes. When it’s fully developed, Williams said it would generate about $150,000 a year in property taxes. Of that, the developer will get all but 21.5 mils with 20 mils still going to the state for education and 1.5 mils going to the state to fund their operation. 

Williams emphasized that these developers are not taking existing tax dollars. 

“That’s just not how it works,” Williams said. “These are tax dollars that are created because of what they did, and it just allows them to get the increment over and above what was being collected in that project beforehand.”

The City Commission’s approval of the development on the 28th marked the start of a 30-day veto period. 

“The good news is that you don’t have to take any action,” Williams said. “It will continue onward unless you take an action to veto that.”

Board Member Meagan Zampieri-Lillpopp agreed that affordable housing is important to Hays, but wondered if this new development would be truly affordable.

“I am concerned about some price points – do you have any idea where these new developments will land,” Zampieri- Lillpopp said. 

Williams said prices per unit had not been settled, but the developer Michael Graham has built other apartment complexes in Hays. Graham built 18 one-bedroom apartments at 7th and Oak which Williams says he rents for about $815 – all utilities included. Williams noted that the new complexes might be more expensive due to increased costs over the last two years.

“There’s a lot of pieces to this puzzle, but they all add up with more affordable housing regardless of what you consider is affordable,” Williams said. “We can argue that all evening, but the reality is it’s more affordable than it would be otherwise.”

For an RHID to be approved, a Housing Needs Analysis must be completed.

Williams said the analysis showed a 300 to 400 unit shortage. To maintain a one percent growth in the community, he said 88 new homes or apartments need to be built each year. Currently, Hays averages about 40 a year. To Williams, the pricing issue is simply an issue of supply and demand.

“The only way we’re ever going to get price points in a better position in this community is to have enough to choose from,” Williams said.

Board member Craig Pallister said he appreciates the work the community has done to keep Hays moving forward. 

“It goes right back to where we were with the bond issue,” Pallister said. “We need to grow Hays. We’re growing the schools. We’re growing the community. Being able to get more housing will get us more students into our schools so that’s what’s been so exciting is having the whole city whole district everybody working together on the same focus.”  

The Board did not take any veto action and Williams thanked them for their time. 

“This is probably not the last time I will stand before you with one of these projects – at least I certainly hope it does not because they’re important to us,” Williams said. 

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