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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • School Board: Bakken votes against abatement

  • He doesn’t see how it benefits education
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  •     "How does this advance the mission of the school district?"   
        That was what Crookston School Board member Keith Bakken wanted to know at this week's meeting, when the board was presented with the second of two resolutions on their agenda involving tax abatements on properties in the community.   
        The first one, involving four home parcels that qualify for two-year property tax abatements as part of the City of Crookston's Housing Incentive Program, has been approved by the board over the years that the program has been in existence. The board approved it unanimously again this week.   
        "Hopefully, we'll have some families living in (the homes) with kids," board chair Frank Fee said.   
        It was the second resolution, a requested five-year abatement for the former Crookston SuperValu building downtown, which Strategic Investments, LLC is going to renovate into 12 apartments for senior citizens, that spurred Bakken's inquiry. He seemed to have some support from Fee and Superintendent Chris Bates, too, at least when it comes to the notion that abating property taxes on a property that will be occupied by senior citizens who have no kids in the local schools doesn't seem to directly benefit the school district.   
        "I vote for the abatements because I think it benefits the district in the long run, but this one I see absolutely no benefit to the district because of the senior citizen aspect," Fee said. "But it helps this community and maybe it will help the district down the line."   
        The most direct benefit, Bates added, might simply be in the form of the increased value of the long-vacant grocery store building once it's renovated into new apartments. "It will be revalued at a higher level, and the district will get more tax revenue," the superintendent said. "It will increase the tax base, which is good for the community, but I agree with Frank that it's not a direct benefit to the district."   
        Bakken cast the lone vote against the five-year abatement request.

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