Pride & Progress
Pride and Progress
In an effort to draw more people and more businesses to Vidor, the city is providing tax abatements in several reinvestment zones for new residential construction and for substantial home improvements totaling $15,000 or more. In addition to the tax abatements being offered to promote growth, city code enforcers are identifying and have identified several substandard residential buildings for potential demolition.
The actions are part of the city’s “Pride and Progress” initiative.
Vidor City Manager Mike Kunst told The Examiner that city administrators have been looking at measures to attract new residents, and they hope the tax abatements will be a step in that direction by putting newer, more appealing homes on the local market and encouraging homeowners in the zones who wish to improve their homes significantly to do so now.
“We want to incentivize the construction of new residential buildings in the reinvestment zones,” Kunst explained. “We are looking at revitalizing existing and underdeveloped residential neighborhoods in Vidor.
“We are providing 100 percent abatement of city taxes for the first two years with decreasing abatements over seven years. We are trying to provide more incentives, and are already on the agenda to speak to the drainage district about their possible participation. We also plan to reach out to the county in hopes they will also provide some tax abatements.”
According to Kunst, the builder of a new home with a taxable valuation of $150,000 would save approximately $5,300 in city property tax over seven years.
Kunst said city administrators believe new homes would beautify the area and draw more citizens, which he asserts would be a boon to the local economy.
“We’re doing what we can to bring people to the city,” Kunst asserted. “The abatements are no financial loss to the city. They are not on the tax rolls, so it’s not money the city would have made in the first place, but the new construction will benefit the city in a number of ways. If we can draw more people to Vidor, we can add to the tax rolls. Families will move in and that means more students, which means more revenue for the city. People in Vidor are good about shopping locally, so we believe increasing the number of residents will bring in more business for business owners and also increase sales tax, which is good for the city.”
The city will additionally waive building permit fees and provide dumpsters during construction for builders taking advantage of the abatements for new residential construction and for homeowners making $15,000 or more in improvements to their homes.
Kunst said he thinks when homeowners already living in the reinvestment zones see improvements and new homes, they will be inspired to follow suit.
“It’s like when you see a neighbor who has a beautifully kept yard and maybe a garden, it makes you want your yard to look good, too,” Kunst contended.
The city’s beautification and improvement efforts extend to the demolition of substandard structures in the city. Kunst said code enforcers and the Vidor Police Department have been vital in the city’s endeavor to identify unsafe and unattractive residences, and said they have already placed four buildings on three properties on the agenda for consideration of demolition. All of the structures are vacant, and the city has contacted property owners for permission to demolish. The city would initially incur the cost of the demolition, approximately $3,000 per structure for the buildings listed on this week’s council agenda, and would place liens on the properties to encourage repayment.
Kunst said the city needed to take steps to get rid of many of the problem structures, some of which have been identified by police as harboring vagrants and some of which present obvious dangers to residents. The identified properties have issues such as trash strewn around the yard, gaps in the walls, broken windows with glass shards surrounding them, sunken ceilings, caved-in roofs, broken steps, and numerous other problems.
The worst of the old structures already on the chopping block, 1140 North Tannahill, once belonged to an elderly resident, Kunst related. The man actually resided in an RV after hurricane damage made his home unlivable. The elderly gentleman has since died, and his property has not been attended to in a very long time. High grass, shoes, a gas can, wood, metal and glass is all over the yard, and what looks as though it was once a garage of some type is falling apart and heaped with rubbish.
“We want to get these properties cleaned up and to get rid of the old, unsafe structures,” said Kunst. “We don’t want unscrupulous landlords buying these old structures, patching them up and renting out substandard homes. They are eyesores, and they are dangerous. We have to consider our residents’ safety.
“We understand it is going to cost some money, but the city and citizens will profit in the long run.”