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Letter to the Editor (Verndale Sun)

To the Editor:

Did you know that Tax Increment Financing Districts in Wadena County are in place, where the real estate taxes are diverted back to pay certain costs, related to the building of them. Many of these are related to housing projects. These are done per state statutes that give this authority to city governments. The county is included and although they can comment, they have no authority to approve or disapprove them.

There are about 16 of these that can extend for decades. The taxes not paid have to be made up by all taxpayers in the county and affect county, school and local governments. Since almost 70% of the county tax capacity lies in rural townships, they do have an effect on everyone’s taxes.

Most government housing programs are directed toward cities and come with low income requirements. I am not necessarily opposed to them, but have concerns.

Tax capacity and housing are two intertwined issues affecting Wadena County. We need an increase in new construction tax capacity of at least 25M per year, just to have a chance to reduce our high levy. By directing most initiatives only toward cities we exclude 90% of the county.

Did you know that a new $300,000 home in Wadena County can have a tax obligation of up to over $6,000?

Tax abatements are county programs that are controlled and start with the county. They can be changed and controlled by the county as needed. I will ask the commissioners to consider a two year tax abatement on new homes or ADU construction in our townships, Nimrod and Aldrich.

There will, of course, be restrictions and rules so they are fair. What if we could get 40 new dwellings a year instead of 10 or 15? A new structure will pay taxes for generations. We need housing, people, bus routes and economic development countywide.

And most importantly we all benefit and should cheer development wherever it happens in the county.

Murlyn Kreklau

District 4 Commissioner


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