If you live in Merriam and are thinking about giving your house a facelift, the city may be willing to help foot the bill.
Under a plan proposed at the Merriam City Council’s regular meeting Monday, the city would pay 20 percent of the cost of a host of exterior improvements to non-apartment residential properties.
Residents with projects that cost at least $4,000 would be eligible, Bryan Dyer, Merriam’s community development director, told members. Under the proposal, the city would pay a minimum of $800 and a maximum of $2,500 for a single project.
One purpose of the program is to help people who need to make upgrades because of city code violations, Dyer said.
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“We have sticks” to get residents to comply with violations, he said. “This would also provide some carrots.”
City Administrator Chris Engel said it would give the city “another tool in the toolbox” to help get residents’ houses up to code.
A variety of exterior projects — painting, siding, window or door replacement, roofing, landscaping, foundation repair and others — would be eligible.
The city arrived at two figures — the $4,000 minimum project expense and a total city payout in 2018 of $30,000 — with staff workload in mind, Dyer said. With a lower minimum or a larger total, the expected large number of funding requests could be hard for staff to handle, he said.
But some council members floated the idea of lowering the minimum project cost to give more people a chance to qualify.
Ward 1 Councilman Scott Diebold said the program wouldn’t help a homeowner who was ordered by the city, because of a violation, to make improvements totaling less than $4,000.
“I’d like to see someone who maybe has to spend $1,200 to paint their house get some help with that,” he said.
Dyer said Johnson County provided funding assistance for home improvement projects for residents based on income.
Mayor Ken Sissom said the program would be a good fit for many Merriam residents who need to spend $4,000 or more to replace their driveways because of code violations.
The city did not take action on the proposal at the April 24 meeting.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the council passed — for the second time — a tax increment financing (TIF) funding agreement for a proposed car dealership.
Merriam Luxury Imports LLC inked its first TIF deal with the city in October. But the company, which has yet to say what brand of car will be sold at the dealership on West Frontage Road, withdrew the request in January before resubmitting it, said Cindy Ehart, Merriam’s finance director.
If approved, the dealership will sit between existing Hyundai and Infiniti dealerships on a vacant drainage parcel Ehart referred to as a “ditch.” The TIF funds would help with development costs on the site.
Nothing significant changed in Merriam Luxury Import’s second TIF request, Ehart said. The company will still ask the city for up to $6 million in TIF funds.
The council’s action, however, does not commit the council to anything, and Ehart said the council would not take action on the proposal before this summer.