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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • City looks to extend housing incentives

  • Hoiseth: Modified package likely in the pipeline to better reflect current, future needs.
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  •     A critical component of the City of Crookston's housing incentives package for newly constructed homes is the two-year abatement of property taxes. So that's why, when city officials and Crookston City Council members earlier this month OK'ed a one-year extension of the incentive package, which is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, the extension was made contingent on the Crookston School Board and Polk County Board of Commissioners approving their portion of the tax abatement.
        City Administrator Tony Chladek told the Times that he's been in touch with School District Superintendent Chris Bates and Polk County Administrator Chuck Whiting, and that both have indicated that they will get the extension of the tax abatements on upcoming meeting agendas for consideration.
        By all accounts, the incentive package has been successful, and has been a catalyst for new home construction in Crookston since the package was first implemented. Chladek said he's "been getting some calls" from people looking to build a home but curious if the incentive package was going to be allowed to expire.
        Council members and Mayor Dave Genereux briefly discussed the possibility of extending the incentive package for more than a year, but with so many housing-related ideas currently on the table and so much of the Crookston InMotion community stewardship/strategic visioning initiative focused on housing needs throughout the community, there was a desire to not commit to the current incentive package for longer than necessary.
        Plus, CHEDA Executive Director Craig Hoiseth said, things have changed on the housing front since the housing bubble burst a few years ago, leading to the so-called "great recession." The "biggest issue" these days, he explained, is people having a hard time getting approval for mortgages. "The abatement doesn't remedy that," Hoiseth said.
        He told council members to expect at some point, likely within the next year, a revamped incentive package for them to consider that better reflects the community's current housing situation, and future housing needs and wants. "Don't be shocked if we come to the council with a little different thought process on this subject," Hoiseth said. "We just didn't want (the current incentive package) to lapse while we're trying to come up with something a little different."
        Ward One Council Member Tom Jorgens said he would like to see a detailed analysis of the positive impact of the incentives and tax abatements. When she was city clerk/treasurer, Betty Arvidson used to provide such an analysis of the economic impact of the incentives, and new Finance Director Angel Hoeffner said she will come up with something similar.

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