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Voters to decide property tax exemptions

By Staff | Oct 10, 2014

Next month, a question of whether or not certain businesses can be exempted from certain taxes will be decided by area residents.

Measure 1 for the city of Rugby, which is on the ballot for the Nov. 4 election, reads: “Shall the governing body of the City of Rugby be empowered to grant property tax exemptions upon application of new or expanding retail sector businesses?”

According to chapter 40-57.1 of the North Dakota Century Code, a city council or commission can grant a partial or complete exemption for no more than five years from the date construction or expansion starts. However, the governing body of a city with a population of less than 40,000 can only grant exemptions if approved by a majority of qualified electors during a local election held in conjunction with a statewide election.

Rugby’s City Council currently has the authority to grant property tax exemptions, which are on a five-year scale. A new or expanded retail business could be 100 percent exempt for the first two years, 75 percent exempt for the third year and exemptions decrease by 25 percent each year for the remaining two years.

Rugby Shopko Manager Dave Lyon expressed concerns about the measure.

“Personally, what concerns me is someone trying to get an exemption for one or two years and then they’re gone,” Lyon said.

Lyon also said he could see some good in it.

“Bottom line, I’m for growth,” Lyon said. “If it’s helping the community, I don’t see a problem with it.”

Jackie Albrecht, Thrifty White Drug store manager, doesn’t feel the same way.

“No, I don’t think (the city) should (grant property tax exemptions),” Albrecht said. “The property taxes we pay, pay for running our city. If (businesses) expect to use the services our taxes provide, they should pay the taxes.”

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