City to continue home exemptions
By Brian L. Gray
Two-year tax exemptions for $75,000 worth of a single family Mandan home will remain an option for potential homeowners.
The issue was brought to a vote at the Mandan City Commission’s meeting on April 2, with a split vote leaning in favor of keeping the exemptions available. Voting for phasing out the exemptions by 2015 were commissioners Dennis Rohr and Dot Frank.
Rohr said the city should give ample time to eradicate the incentive and begin a new policy. “We need to change more toward being less liberal in passing those out and being more conservative,” he said.
Frank, who introduced the discussion to the commission, said no longer offering the exemptions would be one way to relieve the tax burden on citizens. She said that in the community’s current market, the average cost of homes are now closer to $250,000 than what they were a few years ago, at $150,000, and that these exemptions won’t make much of an impact in a family’s decision to move to Mandan.
Frank cited Dickinson, which at one time offered exemptions on homes up to $250,000 in value but recently cut the incentive off entirely. The city of Mandan is able to permit exemptions of up to $150,000 for homes.
Commissioner Sandy Tibke said that Dickinson does not compete against a larger neighboring city, the way Mandan does with Bismarck.
“No matter how much oil development is coming our way, it’s also coming to Bismarck. So we have to consider how to bring people into Mandan. We’re still competing with Bismarck,” Tibke said.
City Administrator Jim Neubauer said there has been no factual data showing how much this exemption has factored into why people move to Mandan, “but it has been beneficial,” he said.
The city commission agreed to table discussions on multi-family homes until the state legislature votes on its Senate Bill 2314, which seeks to ask voters to decide whether or not to make these type of exemptions available. The city will revisit this discussion in May.
Neubauer said he and Business Development Director Ellen Huber spoke to the state legislature in opposition of this measure, instead asking to “leave this as a local decision,” he said.
“If cities don’t need it, they don’t need to use it. But a lot of Mandan’s tax dollars go to Bismarck, and we need something to bring money back here, and get businesses to come to Mandan,” Neubauer said.