BISMARCK, ND - In 1999 the Bismarck Renaissance Zone Authority put an initiative into place that would allow up to five years of tax breaks or full tax exemptions for those who renovate properties within the Renaissance Zone.
Today there are talks from the City Commission to up the qualifications for single family homes within the zone to meet the requirements for these breaks.
In 2018, 11 businesses within the Bismarck Renaissance Zone deferred a total of $307,596 in tax breaks. This year, four more businesses have qualified for exemptions.
"It was intended to help promote redevelopment of their downtown core districts, which typically have a lot of older buildings. Some of which maybe had fallen into disrepair," says Chair of Renaissance Zone Authority Jim Christianson.
This plan would eventually improve the city's tax base.
"A tax exemption is granted for five years, but then after the end of that five year period the property enters tax rolls at a higher level. So basically, the city can recoup some of that investment by taxing in the future," says Bismarck City Planner with the Community Development Department Daniel Nairn.
Currently, for single family homeowners to qualify for the program, they have to invest $15 per square foot into their property, to get the tax exemption. Whereas, businesses are required to invest $40 per square foot into their property.
Now, the City Commission is discussing raising the steaks for homeowners that want a tax break.
"So, they wanted to make sure, you know, when they do invest in this property that it is substantially improving the property so it does add value in the future," Nairn says.
There has not yet been an official proposal for a required amount homeowners will have to spend on renovations in the future to receive the break.
If an increase in spending is passed, Christianson says there is no guarantee a homeowner will be approved. However, Nairn says the increase will make it more likely they will be.
There have been 140 projects qualifying for exemptions in the history of the program.
The Renaissance Zone Authority will hold a public hearing on November 14th at 4 p.m. in the City-County Building.
To learn more about these exemptions, you can visit www.bismarcknd.gov and search "Renaissance Zone Program."