County board discusses using ARPA funds for housing needs

Julie Davis, CherryRoad Media

The housing market across Otoe County may soon expand, thank to America’s Rescue Plan Act funds.

The Otoe County Board of Commissioners heard a presentation from Dan Mauk, executive director of the Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corp., during the board’s Monday, Nov. 8, meeting.

Mauk’s proposal would use $999,000 from the county’s ARPA allotment to allow for the construction of up to 111 houses throughout the county, from 1 new home in Burr and in Lorton to 73 new homes in Nebraska City.

Under this plan, Douglas, Dunbar, Otoe and Talmage could add 2 homes each, Unadilla could add 3, Palmyra could add 6, and Syracuse could add 20, said Mauk

The funds would offer $9,000 per house incentives to developers willing to build three or more units in a community, said Mauk

The homes would be either 1,500-square-foot single-family homes with 2-car garages or 1,100-square-foot duplexes with a single car garage, according to the plan, and would be completed by October 2023.

Any funds uncommitted by Oct. 30, 2024, would revert to the county for other needs, said Mauk.

Building the 111 new housing units would provide a return on the investment of approximately $28 million in new construction, and almost $4 million in taxes, said Mauk

He said that the new homes would mean about 400 full-time-equivalent employees could reside in the county, which would bring secondary payrolls and purchasing, along with ongoing property taxes and utility payments.

New families living in the county could also help Nebraska City Public Schools with its financial issues, said Mauk, who noted that the district could add up to about 150 students without having to increase its current staffing.

Discussions will continue on the topic, and Board Chair Jerad Sornson said he hoped to have additional information on how ARPA funds can and cannot be used after an upcoming meeting in December.

Mauk was to present similar scenarios at the Nov. 10 Syracuse City Council meeting and the Nov. 15 Nebraska City City Council meeting.

During the Nov. 8 meeting, county commissioners also

Discussed county employee salaries for the 2023-2026 term; and

Approved a conservation easement application submitted by the Ralph E. Welte Living Trust and the Betty A. Welte Living Trust.

Otoe County Board of Commissioners meetings have been moved to Mondays during November. The next regularly scheduled meeting is set for 8:30 a.m. Monday, Nov. 22, at the Otoe County Courthouse.

Dan Mauk, executive director of the Nebraska City Area Economic Development Corp. addresses members of the Otoe County Board of Commissioners.