Council, county board set for housing abatement hearings

Published 9:01 am Monday, September 5, 2016

The first Austin Housing Initiative request could be fully approved by the end of Tuesday.

After the Austin Public Schools Board voted unanimously on Aug. 22 to approve the first tax abatement request through the Austin Housing Initiative, the City Council and Mower County Board of Commissioners will each hold public hearings on the plans Tuesday. The city’s will be during its 5:30 p.m. meeting in the council chambers of City Hall, while the county board’s is slated for 1:45 p.m. during its regular meeting in the basement board room of the Mower County Government Center.

The program is a tax abatement plan agreed to by the city, county and school board with the hopes of sparking new construction and new housing.

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Austin officials have long sought ways to address a shortage of workforce housing, and Mayor Tom Stiehm formed an ad hoc housing committee to address the issue.

The Austin Housing initiative, which officially started Aug. 1, is seen as a way to spur development through an incentive of five tax-free years for new housing developments.

But each individual request must be approved after a public hearing with the city, county and school board within 30 days of the request.

The hearings are for Matt Laack, who is building a home for an estimated value of $250,000 on the 2000 block of 12th Avenue Southwest in Austin.

If next approved by the city and county, Laack’s abatement would make for $2,726.75 in total property taxes — $626.28 a year for the school district, $1,041.16 for the county and $1,059.31 for the city, according to records released by the district.

No one from the public spoke at the school board hearing in August.