Western Nebraska Observer - Observations all along the line - Kimball & the Southern Panhandle First

Council considers housing needs and Event Center

 

February 8, 2018



Time is of the essence when it comes to funds for rural workforce housing. This and a new Kimball Event Center committee was discussed at the special City Council meeting on Monday, Feb. 5.

State grant money is now available for housing and LB840 funds can also be used in certain instances, as well. As a region, Western Nebraska Economic Development (WNED) is seeking grant money totaling $1 million.

Housing was one of the top concerns in Kimball for current business owners and those considering a move to the area.

I want to apologize for the rushed meeting,” Special Projects Coordinator Amy Sapp said. “The draft of the Rural Housing Fund came out in January and wasn’t approved until Feb. 2. PADD (Panhandle Area Development District) had sent out some guidelines, about a week ago, that we need to accomplish before we can move forward with this.”

The first, a housing study, was completed in 2016 for Kimball. The second step is to raise matching funds for the grant.

Sapp is aiming for $50,000 of the funds for use in Kimball, meaning the community would be required to raise that amount by March 31 to receive the grant money.

Some communities in the panhandle are considering new housing, but due to a lack of developers and a wealth of properties that need rehabilitated, Sapp would suggest using the funds for purchase, rehab and resell, though the rehabilitated homes could also be rented.

“This is all still so new to all of the communities, it is really up to us to make it our own with the LB840 program,” Sapp said. “So if someone wants to buy a run-down apartment building and remodel it, we can do something like that; if somebody wants to buy a home for rehab/resell, we can do that or if somebody wants to build duplexes or a multi-family unit, we can use LB840 for that.”

Council approved the Mayor’s signature on a letter of intent to participate in this regional application for the Rural Workforce Housing Fund.

After two extensions, grant money from the state originally set aside for Kimball Event Center renovations will expire in May if no action is taken soon.

“If we don’t spend the money, I doubt they will extend the grant again,” council member Christy Warner said.

In August 2016 a volunteer committee was formed to determine whether the facility could become self-sufficient.

“That was a committee formed to ask what kind of events can we have to get more people in there and make the event center more self-sufficient,” Jim Cederburg said. “That purpose is totally distinct and separate from looking at how we can get money raised for matching funds for the grant.”

That committee completed the tasks and Warner is now seeking a new committee for fundraising purposes, as the grant money in question must be matched.

“Let’s move forward instead of sitting on it for months and years,” Warner said.

Dan Dean, City Administrator, said he would like the committee to be more formal than before, with public establishment, a clear mission and accountability.

“We need clarity and a really good record for people in the future (to know) what is going on,” Dean added.

“I think we need a lot more public input too,” Kim Baliman added.

The mission, from Dean’s perspective, is to evaluate the grant possibilities for the Kimball Event Center.

“My own belief is, the event center, while it may lose money, is still a valuable resource,” Dean said.

The new committee will be on the agenda for discussion at the upcoming City Council meeting, scheduled for Feb. 20.

 

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