Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Order on Housing Tax Credits Decried

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Order on Housing Tax Credits Decried

Article excerpt

Contractors and housing agency officials replayed their arguments Friday against an executive order from the governor to a smaller audience, a messenger for Gov. Frank Keating.

They spoke Thursday at a legislative hearing on the order, which takes a tax-credit program for low-income housing from under the authority of the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency. Control over any new projects under the program now rests with the state Department of Commerce.

On Friday, they told a representative from the governor's office that the order imperils housing projects in the pipeline.

"For the governor's office to say it hasn't caused problems, that's ridiculous," said Don Scott, a developer from Guymon who is a former member of the city's chamber of commerce.

Seaboard, a pork processing company setting up shop in Guymon, is counting on three apartment projects to house 1,500 to 2,000 new employees. It already has about 280.

At a Wednesday meeting with a bank involved in one of the Guymon projects, Scott said, "we spent probably half the time talking about the order."

"So some danger is going to be done regardless, and so we're on a short time line."

If the apartments aren't completed, Scott said he worries Seaboard may hire workers from northeast Kansas and bus them in.

Community outcry over a similar project in Broken Arrow triggered Keating's order.

State Rep. Don Weese, R-Broken Arrow, has drawn criticism for requesting the order to halt the low-income apartment project in his district.

Weese and fellow Republican Keating maintain there are serious problems with the way the Oklahoma Housing Finance Agency administers a federal tax credit program. If the agency changes its rules, Keating said, he may rescind the order as early as next week.

Keating points out the order won't affect the Broken Arrow project. A neighborhood group in February lost an appeal of a Tulsa County district court decision allowing the project.

Keating, Weese and others have said they are concerned that the tax-credit program may bring unneeded housing projects, and crime, to neighborhoods. …

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