By Tom Hintgen

Otter Tail County Correspondent

The Otter Tail County Board of Commissioners, on Tuesday, Oct. 11, agreed to an amended county tax abatement policy. Passed unanimously were tax abatement minimum requirements.

Abatements may be either permanent forgiveness or temporary deferral of property taxes.

“Tax abatement is one technique to encourage private development projects,” said County Economic Development Director Nick Leonard.

He said the county, through adoption of minimum requirements, can allow the rebate of property taxes to an owner, reallocate taxes to pay for public infrastructure costs or defer the property taxes and rebate the interest penalty.

“At the time an application for an economic development tax abatement is submitted, all current and past due property taxes must be paid in full,” said Leonard.

The use of abatements can serve similar purposes to Tax Increment Financing (TIF), a widely used economic development tool. TIF enables cities to use additional property taxes generated by a new development to pay for certain development expenses.

In recent years, more than 31 counties and 62 cities in Minnesota have used tax abatement to assist project developers with economic development ventures.

Thumper Pond, which announced earlier this year plans to rebuild a water park after a roof collapse in 2015 at Ottertail, will receive tax abatement from Otter Tail County and the city of Ottertail.

Earlier, Otter Tail County commissioners approved tax abatement for a Battle Lake hotel project.

County commissioners, in future years, see the tax abatement tool used for development of quality child care opportunities in Otter Tail County, resort preservation, affordable workforce housing and other objectives.

“We’ll review our tax abatement guidelines on a yearly basis,” said County Board Chairman Lee Rogness. “This is an informational document, and we as a county board know that goals can change.”


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