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County sees success with program

FAIRMONT– Martin County is just wrapping up the third year of its tax abatement program. The program offers up to 100 percent abatement of the county’s portion of real estate taxes on new single family homes for up to 10 years.

County Assessor, Mike Sheplee, said that the Martin County Economic Development Authority and Martin County Commissioners have been working toward alleviating the housing shortage for several years which was the driving force behind the program. Ultimately the program provides incentive to encourage construction of new owner occupied housing units.

Sheplee pointed out that when people leave their existing home to start construction on a new one under the program, it frees up their old home for someone else to purchase and occupy.

It’s a five year program but if it continues to be successful, there’s a possibility that it will be extended. To date, 24 homes have been constructed as part of the program at the collective value of $9.2 million.

The houses have been spread across 11 townships and the cities of Fairmont and Welcome. Seven were approved in 2020, four in 2021 and 12 in 2022.

For a single family house, taxes will be paid annually, but the county portion of the tax bill will be refunded in full. County taxes on a $360,000 single family home in Fairmont are about $1,480 annually so the refund over 10 years would be roughly $14,800.

After 10 years when no more refunds are going back, the $9 million value thus far will contribute to the tax levy for the county.

Sheplee pointed out that in the first 10 years, the township and school district portion of the property taxes will have immediate benefit from an increased tax base.

It’s an application process that takes about six weeks for approval as a public hearing is needed. Construction cannot start until approved.

Sheplee said they’re aware of a few neighboring counties that have a similar program established. He spoke highly of the program here in Martin County.

“I have yet to find a negative to it. It benefits the people building. It benefits all of the tax payers due to the increased tax base. It also adds construction jobs,” Sheplee said.

There’s also a multi-family housing tax abatement program that’s a partnership between the city of Fairmont, Martin County and the Fairmont Area School District. While no one has applied for it yet, it provides tax abatement from all three entities for 10 years.

More information about the tax abatement program can be found on the county’s website at co.martin.mn.us.

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