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Tax abatement program still strong

FAIRMONT– Martin County has seen much success in its property tax abatement program. In its fourth year, 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.

Earlier this week, County Assessor Mike Sheplee provided a year-end report of the program to the Martin County Board fo Commissioners. At that time he shared that as a result of the program 33 new homes have been approved to be built around the county since 2020.

“It’s a five year program and expires March 17, 2025 according to policy,” Sheplee had told the commissioners.

With the 33 approved homes, the value of new construction is estimated at over $13 million with an average new construction value over $400,000 per home. He said they’re typically brand new builds on undeveloped property or replacing homes that are undervalued.

“In 10 years, the county will be refunding $540,000 in taxes under this program and after that there will be no refunds, which is money the county keeps and uses,” Sheplee said.

During that same time period, the cities and townships will not be refunding the money but collecting an extra $261,000 and the school districts will be collecting almost $460,000.

The average cost savings to an individual in the program over 10 years is about $16,000.

Sheplee said that the program was originally started to encourage the building of single and multi-family housing in the county.

“This is a financial incentive for the construction of new homes to entice people to live and work in Martin County,” Sheplee said.

The 33 approved homes are sprinkled across the county with 19 of them occurring in the Martin County West School District. Two are in each the Granada-Huntley-East Chain and Truman School Districts and three in the Fairmont Area School District.

Sheplee meets with the individuals who apply for the program. A public hearing needs to be held before the Martin County Board of Commissioners and Sheplee said one of the requirements of the policy is that construction can’t begin before the board approves the application.

Of the 33 home owners that have applied for the program, Sheplee said that six of them have moved either back to Martin County or into the area for the first time.

“Some of those that are building new homes who are from Martin County are replacing older homes that were built in the late 1800s,” Sheplee said.

He said some of the applicants in the program are building a ‘shouse’ (shed house) and some are bringing in a manufactured home.

There have not yet been any multi-family homes built in the program though it’s allowed under the policy.

“The board is very supportive of the program and would like to see all new homes take advantage of it and more housing developed in the county,” Sheplee said. “It increases the property tax base and gives homes to families and to people who need and want to live here.”

More information on the program can be found on the county’s website at co.martin.mn.us. Sheplee said that recently the material has been made available in Spanish so that the department can assist people who are more comfortable with the Spanish language.

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