Committee backs tax break for affordable housing

A Fargo organization building affordable housing in Minot is back before the Minot City Council to seek additional help.

The council’s Finance and Improvements Committee voted Tuesday to recommend the council grant a tax incentive to Beyond Shelter for the second phase of Washington Townhomes at 802-17th Ave. SE. Beyond Shelter expects to begin the additional construction in August or September.

Beyond Shelter would pay taxes on the land, estimated initially at about $22,900. The tax break applies only to the value of new construction. Beyond Shelter would pay the city $11,200 instead of a tax on the building in the first year of the incentive in 2015. That amount would increase by 2 percent in each subsequent year of the 20-year incentive. The money would help support city services being received.

Last May, the city had granted Beyond Shelter the in-lieu-of-tax incentive for Phase I of the Washington Townhomes development.

The tax break would enable Beyond Shelter to buy down rents by an average of $150 per unit per month. Rents would range from $650 for a two-bedroom unit to $930 for a four-bedroom unit if the council approves the tax incentive.

The project would add 32 townhome units, bringing the total at Washington Townhomes to 64 units. It would operate as affordable housing for a minimum of 30 years.

The units would qualify under the Minot Housing Authority’s Section 8 voucher program. The housing authority has seen a decline in the number of families helped from 660 in January 2011 to 460 in December 2012 because of lack of affordable housing that meets the program’s rent limits.

The council also will consider Beyond Shelter’s request for a letter of support for its application to the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency for low-income housing tax credits.

In other business, the finance committee voted to recommend the council accept the $2.47 million bid of Veit & Co. for phase one of sanitary sewer lift station improvements. Several sanitary sewer-lift stations need capacity upgrades to handle growth, particularly on North and South Hill. The first phase involves upgrades to the 13th Street, Walders Street, Roosevelt and airport lift stations. The second phase eventually will be for upgrades to the master and control lift stations.