TIF bill looks to extend construction deadline, create and retain jobs

by T.W. Budig

ECM Capitol reporter

Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki and downtown Stillwater resident Gary Elert heard positive comments about the legislation they were promoting before the Senate Tax Reform Committee on Thursday (April 4).

Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, brought a tax increment finance bill before a Senate committee on Thursday (April 4). Stillwater resident Gary Elert (left) and Stillwater Mayor Ken Haryckia appeared in support of the legislation. (Photo by T.W. Budig)

Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, brought a tax increment finance bill before a Senate committee on Thursday (April 4). Stillwater resident Gary Elert (left) and Stillwater Mayor Ken Haryckia appeared in support of the legislation. (Photo by T.W. Budig)

“We’re very curious,” Committee Chairwoman Sen. Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope.

“It’s a beautiful, old building,” condo owner Gary Elert said of the historic building in downtown Stillwater in which he is one of 10 condo owners. “It’s one of the historic downtown buildings that unless we fix it, it’s going to fall down,” he said.

Harycki told the committee the city wasn’t asking for any major adjustment to its TIF, just flexibility in terms of spending.

Elert is hoping to secure a low-interest loan from the city, perhaps $175,000, to permanently fix the patch-on-patch approach that has walls in the building bulging. Because of financial restraints on the condo owners, financing the project themselves is unfeasible, he explained.

The city has used TIF dollars to assistance owners in upgrading downtown buildings, Harycki told the committee.

Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, is carrying legislation to extend the deadline two years for construction stimulus for TIF (tax increment financing) districts. To qualify for the extension under the bill, construction must begin by July, 2014, create or retain jobs in Minnesota and have no other source of ready funding.

Changes would be applicable to all TIF districts.

Authority to spend increment funding under the bill would expire on Dec. 31, 2014, except for market rate housing, which would expire five months earlier.

The Minnesota Department of Revenue estimates the sought TIF changes might affect local taxes in the future and result in small changes in property tax refunds.

Rest indicated that Stillwater wasn’t the only city that has suggested extending the construction deadline.

“We’ll keep an eye on it,” she said.

Rest laid the bill aside for possible inclusion into an omnibus committee bill.

 

Tim Budig can be reached at tim.budig@ecm-inc.com.

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