HOLCOMB — The Finney County Economic Development Corp. will assist the City of Holcomb with creating incentive programs designed to spark residential development.

Lona DuVall, FCEDC president, said Holcomb doesn’t qualify for the Rural Housing Incentive District (RHID) program, which helps developers build housing by helping to finance public infrastructure improvements.

The RHID is set by state statute, DuVall said, and requires a demonstrated need for housing and bases that need, in part, on employment in the community. Because many residents live in Holcomb but work in other communities, that need isn’t demonstrated.

DuVall asked Holcomb City Council members what incentives they would feel comfortable providing.

“Do you want to look at modifying an existing program that might be out there, seeing if there is a way to modify that to fit your needs, or do you want us to look at how to design something on a case-by-case basis?” she said.

She said FCEDC and the community development office could assist with incentive planning and also help identify Holcomb’s housing needs, as well as develop a cost benefit analysis to help the council determine a given incentive’s benefit to the community.

“We can help you design that lens, basically, to view each one through,” DuVall said.

DuVall said the Neighborhood Revitalization program can be modified to fit a community’s needs, as long as it meets state statute.

The program is a property tax rebate program for homeowners and commercial businesses that allows homeowners to recoup up to 95 percent of the additional property taxes generated from an addition or remodel.

But that doesn’t benefit developers, DuVall said, because barring using home rule statutes to make a change, the rebate goes to whoever purchases the property.

DuVall said she would need to do more research about that idea.

Councilman Brian Rupp said he supports development and the increase it brings to the tax base, but said he isn’t in favor of giving a lot of money away in the process.

DuVall said none of the large-scale housing development in Garden City would be taking place without an incentive to cover infrastructure costs.

The council directed FCEDC to work with Garden City’s planning and community development office to determine potential tools Holcomb could use to assist developers and to create incentive standards.

In other business:

• The council gave Bill Knight, Holcomb Fire Department chief, permission to train until March 1 at the old Hay Mill site located east of the Main Street and Railroad intersection.

The city purchased the dilapidated industrial site earlier this year and plans to tear it down for safety reasons. Knight said the training will provide area firefighters the opportunity to conduct search and rescue drills.

• The Holcomb Fire Department will begin participating in a Firemen’s Relief Act (FRA), which provides insurance products including life, disability and accident insurance to firefighters.

Knight told the council he would like to see the Holcomb Fire Department participate in the program.

A portion of premiums collected by the Kansas Department of Insurance for dwelling, fire and lightning insurance each year goes into a fund that provides insurance products free of charge to firefighters, and at no cost to the city of Holcomb.

Shawn Myers, a Holcomb volunteer firefighter and employee of Keller Leopold Insurance in Garden City, shared the information, but no action was required by the council.