School board approves changes to tax abatement – Albert Lea Tribune
By Alex Guerrero
It was over with the old and the new when members of the Albert Lea School District Board of Directors overheard Ian Rigg, Albert Lea’s City Manager, talk about a policy change.
“Our current program is only for new construction, usually single-family or duplex homes, and the increase is reduced to 100%,” he said.
Under the proposed change, which was passed unanimously by school board members, the same type of construction will be repealed for three years. But these projects can also benefit from a reduction of 50% for another three years.
Rigg started seeing the idea in August as a way to resolve the current housing crisis in the area and decided to go ahead with the idea of tax relief after consulting with his staff, heads of county and school administrators.
“When we started to look at this, we [asked] ‘do we know its effectiveness’ ”, he declared.
So Rigg started looking for ways to reduce energy use, ways to maximize taxpayer dollars, and ways to reallocate vacant properties.
“Some of the things [this project] as long as the community is one, it answers the call of what we do as a community to address climate change issues in accordance with our climate change policy, ”he said. “Other things, it helps keep costs down in the long run because we already have this infrastructure in place. So now we have more users and more tax base to cover this existing infrastructure instead of building new ones to gain a new tax base and new users of public services.
Megan Boeck, a town planner, then spoke about Clark Street East LLC and the 131 and 137 E. Clark St. rehabilitation project, currently a dilapidated VFW building. A developer proposed to transform the buildings into 20 to 22 apartments.
“We have housing shortages, and it’s a run down, vacant building in our historic downtown shopping district that could just be better used,” she said. “This rehabilitation, in addition to the tax base, could provide employment opportunities and fill this housing gap.”
Boeck estimated that the cost to rehabilitate the building would be between $ 2.6 million and $ 3 million, and that after completion, the area could be worth $ 1.4 million. Its current value is $ 104,000.
Albert Lea’s city council approved the proposal last week, and now only has to pass it by Freeborn County Commissioners, who will meet on Tuesday.