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WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 13, 2012, 10:00 PM

Moorhead tax abatement hopes to increase homeowner numbers

Moorhead, Minn. (WDAY TV) - While Moorhead has seen a rise in population over the last decade, it's not growing nearly as fast as its counterparts across the river, West Fargo and Fargo.

Moorhead, Minn. (WDAY TV) - While Moorhead has seen a rise in population over the last decade, it's not growing nearly as fast as its counterparts across the river, West Fargo and Fargo.

Sometimes it's a competition for a community's most prized possession, its people, and Moorhead may soon be leveling the playing field.

Construction in Moorhead for new homes has grown by more than 50-percent over the first half last year, jumping from 27 to 44.

Now the city is hoping to offer a tax abatement program, two years of property tax exemption for homes built this year or next.

City officials say the council and county commission are ready to move forward. Now they need the school board.

Michael Redlinger, Moorhead City Manager: “This type of a program does require everyone to work together. Clay County has expressed support as has our city council.”

The School Board needs to be in agreement too but it was a mixed bag of reactions.

Lisa Erickson, Moorhead School Board Chair: “They're not going to be punching a lot of basements. We're getting to the end of the season.”

Cindy Fagerlie, Moorhead School Board Vice-Chair: “I have also benefited in my younger days from a property tax abatement program in another community and had that not been available, I couldn't have built that home in that community and it did make a difference.”

The city estimates the incentive can bring in a total of 100 new homes in 2012 and another 100 in 2013.

Moorhead had a $200,000 max building value tax exemption in place for new homes since 2009, but that expired in December.

Redlinger: “Incentives drive housing and incentives drive people to communities. We know people have choices in a metropolitan community.”

Fargo and West Fargo offer two-year property tax exemption for single family homes up to $150,000. As it stands right now, Moorhead's current proposal would have no limit.

A $250,000 home would see nearly $6,000 in savings over a two year period ($5,758), a $1,000,000 home could see more than $27,000 in savings ($27,534).

Redlinger: “These are tools that help us grow the community, get kids in the school district, as well as get productive properties that pay taxes and for city services in Moorhead.”

Any decision would likely be at least four to six weeks away.

If the abatement does go through, it would be a rebate process meaning homeowners would still have to pay all of their taxes then get a rebate check back for the portion that's exempt.

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