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Port Richey considers grant to pay residents to fix homes, businesses

PORT RICHEY — Houses could get a fresh coat of paint. City signs could get makeovers. And businesses could receive interior redesigns.

All with the help of taxpayer dollars.

City officials on Wednesday will consider creating a grant program that pays residents and business owners matching dollars to fix their properties.

The program would use $150,000 of Community Redevelopment Agency funds.

It would mark the first city program in some time to tap the pot of redevelopment dollars, which has grown to $3-million.

The CRA board — composed of City Council members — will discuss the proposal at its meeting at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 6333 Ridge Road.

The effort to invest CRA dollars in city homes and businesses comes on the heels of a move earlier this month to divert about a half-million dollars from the redevelopment fund.

The City Council voted to keep those dollars in the general fund, which pays for salaries and operating costs.

The proposed grant program entails two residential components:

• A "Paint Up, Fix Up Grant," which pays 50 percent matching funds of up to $1,000 for repairs or maintenance to the exterior of a home.

• A "Residential Redevelopment Grant" that pays 50 percent matching funds of up to $5,000 for improvements that add taxable value to a home, such as a room addition.

The three business components of the program are:

• A "Sign Improvement Grant," which matches funds of up to $2,000 to businesses that repair or replace signs in the city.

• A "Business Interior Renovation Grant," which pays 50 percent matching funds of up to $5,000 per property or up to $15,000 for a multitenant location for renovations inside the building.

• A "Facade Improvement Grant," which matches funds of up to $2,500 for a single unit building or $7,500 for a multiple unit building under the same ownership to improve a building's exterior.

Port Richey's municipal neighbor has used the same grant program since 2001, said Caprena Latimore, New Port Richey's redevelopment manager.

Latimore said since the grant program's inception, New Port Richey has awarded 1,193 grants totaling about $1.5-million.

Since the grants require a match, the city estimates the investment from residents has been about $13-million.

Mayor Richard Rober said he wants the council to stretch the redevelopment money as far as it will go to make city improvements.

"I'd like to get as much bang for the buck out of $150,000 as we can," he said.

"I would imagine we would prioritize the projects, step forward and do them."

Camille C. Spencer can be reached at cspencer@sptimes.com or (727) 869-6229.

Port Richey considers grant to pay residents to fix homes, businesses 08/25/08 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 4:24pm]

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