ST. PAUL — Stillwater Mayor Ken Harycki and resident Gary Elert heard positive comments about the tax increment finance legislation before the Senate Tax Reform Committee on Thursday.
“We’re very curious,” said committee Chairwoman Ann Rest, DFL-New Hope.
Sen. Karin Housley, R-St. Marys Point, is carrying legislation to extend the deadline for construction stimulus 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 apply 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 state Department of Revenue estimates the bill’s TIF changes could affect local taxes in the future and result in small changes in property tax refunds.
Harycki told the committee the city wasn’t asking for a major adjustment to its TIF, just flexibility in spending.
The city has used TIF dollars to assist owners in upgrading downtown buildings, Harycki told the committee.
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.
“It’s a beautiful, old building,” Elert said of the historic building in downtown Stillwater in which he is one of 10 condominium owners. “It’s one of the historic downtown buildings that unless we fix it, it’s going to fall down.”
Rest indicated that Stillwater isn’t the only city that 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.
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