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City adopts tax abatement program

March 25, 2019
CJ Eilers - Editor ( , Dysart Reporter

The Dysart City Council on Wednesday, March 13 voted to proceed with a proposed Urban Revitalization period in town, granting access for tax abatement to residents

The council held a scheduled public hearing for the adoption of tax abatement, allowing for comments from the community before turning it back over to the council for a vote. City Hall was packed with residents curious to see how the vote came and others with comments. Several came forward in support of the commercial and residential aspect of Urban Revitalization, as several businesses are looking to expand or relocate to a better space, including Pipho and Gingrich.

"We hope the abatement goes through because the taxes here are a huge thing," Sarah Gingrich said. "We are also located in La Porte City, so any incentives are great and we'd love to stay. I don't know how much people will take advantage of the remodeling aspect, but any chance we can get to get these house which need some help is a great idea."

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Tax abatement allows homeowners or business owners to remodel or build without paying taxes on increased property valuation over the course of the abatement period set, creating an incentive for construction or improvements to a home or business. Under the proposed plan, the only area of Dysart not eligible would be the undeveloped seven lots south of town which will possibly fall under the use of Tax Increment Financing (TIF) to put towards a street to fund a street for the lots.

"The intent of the tax abatement is stimulate growth and eventually add more properties to our tax base," Mayor Pam Thiele said. "It is also in the incentive to improve existing properties. Remodeling on the interior, the property owner would have to self-report to the assessor. The council has talked through that and it likely wouldn't happen, but exterior remodels (garages, room additions, etc) would fall under this. Tax abatement is a good selling point and would only delay the collection of new taxes generated by improvements."

After the set years of abatement for a property, those remodels or additions would be added to the tax roll. The council had discussed a tax abatement plan over the past six months as Dysart's growth has shown signs of growing. According to U.S. Census data, between 1970 and 2016, Dysart has grown 1.083 percent from 1,251 to 1,355 people. Thiele added that since 1995, approximately 50 homes have been built in the city limits. A new million dollar business building would alone help the city generate $10,000 in new property tax. While the city will lose out on some money over the years abatement, felt the incentives would stimulate growth.

"We've stalled on growth because there is not much for opening for houses," Thiele said. "We don't perceive exponential growth, such as 100 homes. It's not going to lead to overuse of our essential services over the abatement year while the city is not collecting on that increased valuation. It will not be an additional cost for us to maintain our streets, provide ambulance services, the police to provide coverage or the City Hall to work with clerical needs."

After closing the public hearing and Thiele's comments, a motion and a second was made and a roll call vote was made 4-0 to adopt the Urban Revitalization Plan, with Councilman Taylor Gingrich abstaining. Ordinance 315 has been designated for the plan and the three readings were waved by the council. Adoption will be implemented immediately.

In other news from the City Council, the Fiscal Year 2020 budget was approved after no comments during a public hearing. Dwayne Luze, representing the Dysart Lions Club, addressed the council regarding the possible of the Culpepper and Merriweather Circus to Dysart. The circus had previously performed in town on August 14, 2017 at the Dysart Park baseball field. Concerns were raised by council members and Public Works due to issues from the previous show leaving the outfield in rough shape. Last year, an effort to restore the diamond begun with the infield and future plans were discussed to improve the outfield. The council asked Luze to look into other possible locations for the circus as they wished to still see the circus come to town.



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