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Commission OKs revisions to Polson redevelopment grant program

by MATT BALDWIN
Lake County Leader | August 11, 2022 12:00 AM

Revisions to Polson’s tax increment financing grant program received the green light at the City Commission’s Aug. 1 meeting.

With an unanimous vote the commission approved updated guidelines for the Polson Redevelopment Agency grant program, which tweaked grant funding maximums and scaled down the application itself.

The vote came after months of review and discussion by the PRA board, which ultimately sent the suggested revisions to the commission for approval.

As set out in Polson’s Urban Renewal Plan, tax increment funds can be used for redevelopment projects within certain areas of the city. Grant awards must be met with a minimum 50% match by the recipient.

One of the revisions increases the maximum grant funding amounts, taking into account the effect of inflation on market costs for labor and materials.

Other changes clarify funding eligibility to reflect current trends in building materials and methods, such as allowing metal siding. New construction projects are now allowed for funding consideration, as well.

The revision also attempts to clarify the “spirit” in which applications should be considered.

“Overall, projects receiving grant funds through this program should improve the aesthetic, function and quality of life,” within the TIF district, the revision states.

“However, the PRA Board recognizes the need to balance construction of new facilities/improvements with efforts that preserve, protect and prevent harm to existing structures so as to maintain the unique character and history of Polson.”

The revisions also create a new micro-grant program to offer quick funding assistance up to $7,500 with the city manager’s approval only.

The application was also scaled down from nine pages to a single sheet.

“People get lost in it,” City Manager Ed Meece said about the application.

The single page form “makes it a little less intimidating,” he added.

Commissioner Carolyn Pardini advocated to include a page for a final report to tally how the funding was spent.

Questions from the public centered on the unclear criteria for matching funds, which resident Mark Johnston agreed needed more work.

IN OTHER related action, the commission approved awarding Billie Wall of Hair Etc., a Polson Redevelopment Agency grant in the amount of $23,650 to help upgrade the business at 49664 U.S. 93.

The funding will include repainting, roof repair, gutters, a slab staircase and a code-required handrail for the facility.

The grant requires a 50% match.

Pardini was the sole vote against awarding the grant.

Also on Aug. 1, the commission approved an open-container waiver for the Elks and Rotary fundraiser set for Aug. 13 between Fifth and Sixth Avenue West from noon to 5 p.m.

Chief of Police Wade Nash submitted a letter is support of the waiver, saying he will ensure officers are in the area during the event.

Event organizer Brooke Duty said everyone will have to show identification and wear a wristband to attend the event.

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