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Taylors Falls seeks tax breaks

Published (1/30/2009)
By Nick Busse
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The city of Taylors Falls is having trouble competing for businesses with neighboring Wisconsin because of its property tax rates, and would like help from the Legislature.

HF101, sponsored by Rep. Jeremy Kalin (DFL-North Branch), would allow Taylors Falls to designate itself a border city development zone — a status that would let the city provide commercial and industrial property tax breaks.

The House Local Government Division approved the bill Jan. 26 and referred it to the House State and Local Government Operations Reform, Technology and Elections Committee. A companion, SF103, sponsored by Sen. Rick Olseen (DFL-Harris), awaits action by the Senate Taxes Committee.

Taylors Falls Mayor Michael Buchite said his city, which is located across the border from St. Croix Falls, Wis., has difficulty persuading businesses to move into town because of Wisconsin’s comparatively generous property tax rates. He said Kalin’s bill would “give us at least the opportunity to compete.”

Buchite said businesses in St. Croix Falls pay property tax rates that are sometimes half of what comparable businesses pay in his city — something that he said has repeatedly thwarted the city’s various efforts at economic development.

According to Minnesota Statutes, five other cities are permitted to use the border city development zone designation: Breckenridge, Dilworth, East Grand Forks, Moorhead and Ortonville.

Rep. Mark Buesgens (R-Jordan) said that while he appreciated what Kalin was trying to do for Taylors Falls, he hoped similar tax incentives could be applied on a statewide level. He argued it would make the state more competitive overall.

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