Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Commission considers housing
By ANNE KAZMIERCZAK
City commissioners learned of a possible opportunity to bring new, mid-priced housing to Iola at their meeting Monday night.
Kansas Department of Corrections is offering inmate-built modular homes at cost, about $65,000-$70,000 for a 1,500 square foot three bedroom, two bath home — delivered.
Communities or individuals, in turn, provide a lot, utility hookups and foundation for the homes.
Developer Tom Carlson, Springfield, Mo., who built the River Valley Homes addition off Cedarbrook Golf Course, is considering purchasing up to 30 of the homes, if Iola would provide him lots.
Carlson would then sell the homes, reaping a profit from the donated land.
The impetus to the city is that he can front the money to purchase the homes, he told commissioners, improving Iola’s available housing stock.
Carlson noted that the River Valley Homes subdivision rented quickly, but an additional 30-35 interested parties were turned away because they made more than allowable income limits.
Those homes, built with a combination of federal tax credits and other funding, were built to serve lower-income working families and had federal income guidelines imposed upon them, Carlson said. The KDC homes would have no such restrictions, he noted.
Carlson said he would also be interested in placing the homes in the Cedarbrook area, if Iola would promise to sell him at least 15 of the 35 remaining lots in that area over the course of a number of years. Carlson said he envisioned adding two to three homes a year to the subdivision.
Commissioners expressed interest, but took no action.
New business dealt with a complaint by Iola Realtor and landlord Ken Rowe that he is unable to secure copies of utility use records for houses he is marketing. Rowe believes the records must be made available through the Freedom of Information Act.
City Attorney Chuck Apt informed Rowe that state statutes pertaining to open records exempt “records of a utility or public service pertaining to individually identifiable residential customers of the utility or service.”
Rowe debated with Apt, staff and commissioners whether a further clause in statute K.S.A. 45-221 actually allowed for such disclosure.
Apt and Rowe came down on opposite sides of interpreting clause 48 (d.), which states “public agencies shall separate or delete” personally identifiable information from “the public record subject to disclosure.”
Again, discussion hinged on whether utility records are available for disclosure.
Apt noted the city’s position was firm and suggested Rowe seek legal council on the matter.
TO ASSIST with city bookkeeping after the transition to an unpaid eight-person council in April, commissioners voted unanimously to forgo pay for the remainder of their terms, beginning with Monday night’s meeting. Commissioners Craig Abbott and Bill Shirley had received approximately $125 per month; Mayor Bill Maness received about $140 per month.
The commission’s final meeting will be April 4, preceding the April 5 election. The new council will be seated at the regularly scheduled meeting April 18.
Commissioners meet next at 6 p.m. Tuesday for four public hearings on property condemnations and an update on proposed crossing signal improvements. The hearings had been set before commissioners changed their meeting day from Tuesdays to Mondays.
Commissioners will meet again Jan. 18 for their regular second monthly meeting, bumped one day due to the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday Jan. 17.