The Ward County Commission requested more information on a construction tax exemption enacted several years ago at its regularly scheduled meeting Tuesday.
The City of Minot will be letting its own exemption lapse at the end of the year and sent a copy of its resolution to the county commission for informational purposes. Commissioner Bruce Christianson said he has several questions about the county's ordinance that he would like answers to. The matter was handed over to the Ward County Planning Commission to gather all the facts about the ordinance and report back to the commission.
The commission's vote to do so was unanimous.
"How did we specifically put that ordinance in place? Does it come to a specific end or does it automatically renew?" Christianson said. "We need that information and that's why we ask it be referred to the planning commission to get that information."
The county's ordinance was enacted several years before the Souris River flood of 2011, so offhand information on it is limited. This is why the planning commission was asked to look into it more deeply to discover the facts.
Christianson said the commission would certainly look at ending the ordinance like the City of Minot will be doing, but there are many things to consider.
Factors in favor of ending the ordinance include a booming economy and population influx that will encourage new construction regardless of tax incentives. There are, however, also legitimate reasons to keep the exemption in place.
"But you have to keep in mind that there's another segment here that we need to address, and that is those folks that were impacted by the flood," Christianson said.
He noted there are 4,200 homes and apartments in Ward County that were damaged by the Souris River flood in 2011, and said those people need a break of some kind to help them get back on their feet.
The state allows two-year tax exemptions to go up to $150,000 on the improved property, but Christianson said Ward County's exemption is currently at $75,000.
"Do we want to continue that, do we want to change that, or do we want to terminate that?" Christianson said. "That's what we'll be deciding here in the next couple of months."