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Council moves forward on housing development

By Staff | Dec 7, 2012

Full steam ahead. The Rugby City Council voted unanimously at its Monday, Dec. 1, meeting to move ahead with the entirety of a housing development in southeast Rugby. The roughly 22-acre development could have gone through in phases, but by moving ahead with the entire project, the city will save money on infrastructure costs. But if the lots, which will be mostly for single family homes with potential areas for apartments or senior-friendly housing, don’t sell as quickly as expected, the gamble may not pay off. That did not dissuade the council, which voted unanimously to accept the second of three proposed plans, one that would call for completion of the entire project at once. “We wanted to be a little proactive and have some housing areas available if the energy field keeps expanding,” council member Arland Geiszler said. “It would be a place for people to build or live outside the Bakken.” The Job Development Authority owns the land and is responsible for the taxes and future special assessments on the properties until they sell. Potentially, if the JDA is not able to pay the taxes, the responsibility would go back on the Rugby taxpayers. But JDA Executive Director Brenda Foster is confident the move made by the council will pay off in the long run. “It’s a step in the right direction and a step we’ve been hoping for,” Foster said. “Hopefully between now and the spring, we have most of those lots sold and will be ready to go.” Geiszler said low interest rates could make this an ideal time for the development to take off. “One of the big things is bond interest rate,” he said. “The bonding people were in and they thought it would be 2 percent or less. Those are pretty attractive rates. For me that was a major pivot point. It’s a good time to do the financing.” With 20 acres of the project already secured, the council also voted to have the JDA look into purchasing another approximately two acres at a cost of $7,500 per acre alongside the development, which would allow for a larger special assessment area. The JDA has indicated that it would make the purchase, allowing the city to annex the land and add it to the development. “It’s an investment into our community, not only now, but into the future,” council member James Hoffert said. Council against sales tax for medical center In other council business from Dec. 1, the finance committee recommended not to support a one percent sales tax sought by the Heart of America Medical Center. The HAMC had been looking for relief from “bad debt” which it was accruing this year after making money two years ago and seeing a small loss last fiscal year. Council member Neil Lotvedt and Geiszler both mentioned that the HAMC would be better off petitioning the tax increase and allowing the people of Rugby the decision in whether to provide the additional funding.

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