The recent announcement that market-rate apartments with 228-units near 130th Street and State Avenue is good news. West Wyandotte County must have adequate housing for the employees that are and will come to the community during the next several years.

     Business West is also encouraged with the market-rate apartment development that is planned near 126th Street and State Avenue. There also has been discussion about an upscale apartment development near 98th Street and State Avenue.

     These developments will be needed if the community is to be competitive in attracting residents who will work for the Cerner Corporation and other businesses in the Village West area. Mayor Joe Reardon said that the last market-rate apartment development was in the Rosedale community in 1986.

     The other piece of the housing puzzle concerns need for single-family homes, particularly in the Piper community. Major challenges to such development have been the general economic slowdown and a high property tax rate.

     Neighboring communities, particularly those in Johnson County, have more favorable property tax rates. And those west of K-7 can qualify for more favorable financing offered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

     Business West has supported a rebate program offered through the Neighborhood Revitalization program that would reduce property taxes for the first five years of a mortgage. Mayor Joe Reardon favors a plan that would waive builder fees.

     Such tax breaks would “level the playing field” until governmental units are able to take advantage of the massive sales tax revenue that will be available after sales tax bonds that are benefitting Village West are paid off in 2017. Then Unified Government officials will need to provide relief for the long-suffering property taxpayers.

     Business West has been visiting various local governmental taxing units, encouraging elected officials to hold the line on property taxes in their 2013 budgets. So far, most units, including the Unified Government, the Kansas City, Kansas, School Board and the Community College Trustees, are not increasing property tax rates. That is commendable.

Murrel Bland is the former editor of the Wyandotte West and the Piper Press. He is executive director of Business West.