Dale Carter calls it carrots instead of sticks. The Blue Springs City Council member for District 1 said the concept of offering city residents an incentive to buy a home in the city was a campaign promise he believed in strongly.

Dale Carter calls it carrots instead of sticks.

The Blue Springs City Council member for District 1 said the concept of offering city residents an incentive to buy a home in the city was a campaign promise he believed in strongly.

And when he mentioned it to staff in community development, he was surprised and delighted to see it included in a preliminary draft for Community Development Block Grant uses.

The draft was presented to the City Council on Monday.

Identified on the draft as the first-time home buyer’s program that would mirror what several communities, including Independence and Lee’s Summit, use to attract first-time buyers.

“We’re surrounded by cities and towns that offer these types of programs,” Carter said. “It was my goal when I campaigned to get something like this here.”

The amount – $37,345 – is small by comparison to other cities, but that could change should the City Council decide to do so. The amount was part of $248,345 in CDBG money the city has to use for 2010 and 2011, an increase from last year by about $20,000.

Dena McLean, a mortgage broker in Blue Springs, said she’s been encouraging the city to implement such a program for a long time.

“I’ve been familiar with it for years through Independence,” she said. “Blue Springs needs this.”

In Independence, those who qualify receive a $3,000 grant that can be used for a downpayment and/or closing costs. While there are several conditions that must be met, the benefits outweigh the requirements.

McLean said Independence works with as many as 80 first-time home buyers in a one year period.

“They have some money to work with,” she said. “(The amount proposed in Blue Springs) is small, but it’s a start.”

Michael Peterman, a principal planner for Blue Springs Community Development Department, said the amount could change before City Council takes a final vote Aug. 4.

In the meantime, a task force may be created to work out the specifics, which includes grant amounts, income qualifications and, like Independence, how long a buyer would have to live in the house.

Carter may or may not be the chairman of that task force.

“... I don’t care how it gets done, I just want to see it in Blue Springs,” he said, adding that recent housing figures throughout the metropolitan area show a steep decline in home purchases.

“Whatever we can do to dangle the carrot,” he said. “We want  to dangle the carrot, not sticks.”