The Atlantic City Council Wednesday learned more about a proposed program that would offer Commercial and Residential Tax Exemptions (Or, Tax Abatement, as it’s commonly called) on new construction and for renovations to some existing residential properties. Councilman Dana Halder reported to the Council on discussions held during a March 18th meeting of the Community Development Committee.
Halder said the Committee came up with a plan to offer a 5-year, sliding scale tax abatement for new residential or commercial construction in Atlantic, with a $250,000 cap. Any existing residential or commercial built prior to 1960, would be eligible for a 5-year 100-percent tax abatement on improvements, with the stipulations that it must increase the property value by 20-percent, and that the electrical box [a fuse panel in older structures] be brought up to current standards.
Halder says since the group came up with their concept, they learned through SWIPCO (The Southwest Iowa Planning Council) that there are some issues with the plan, specifically with regard to the residential cap on new construction. He says that might have to be reduced to $75,000 instead of $250,000. The committee plans to meet with SWIPCO representatives next Tuesday to hammer out the details and implement them as soon as possible.
City leaders in Atlantic have been talking about a revising the current Tax exemption/abatement plan for years, because of numerous complaints over how much is awarded and the criteria for what is granted. Mayor Dave Jones said he would like to see the tax abatement program in effect for 3-years once its implemented, with the option to renew and/or improve it after that.
Councilman Halder said Atlantic needs to get moving quickly, because other cities with abatement programs in-place, are passing us by in terms of attracting new businesses and residents. City Administrator Doug Harris pointed out that the last time the City adopted a plan for new residential/commercial property tax exemptions or abatements, was in 1996. That “Urban Revitalization Plan” (URP) expired in 1999. A URP must be in place before there’s a public hearing and an ordinance is enacted allowing the abatements to take place. Harris said SWIPCO can help the City put together an updated URP, as well as help with the Tax Exemption Program