Hearing held for PILOT proposal

A housing developer's request for a property tax reduction for 44 new low-income townhomes in Dickinson did not draw any public comment during a public hearing held Monday.

Christa McCollum, a third grader from Heart River Elementary, reads her essay "If I were mayor for a day..." while Dickinson Mayor Dennis Johnson listens during a Dickinson City Commission meeting held Monday at City Hall. McCollum was the state winner of the essay contest, held by the North Dakota League of Cities. Her essay was selected from a statewide group of about 700 essays.

A housing developer's request for a property tax reduction for 44 new low-income townhomes in Dickinson did not draw any public comment during a public hearing held Monday.

The hearing regarding the project was held during a Dickinson City Commission meeting at City Hall.

Gary Stenson, president of St. Paul, Minn.-based MetroPlains Development, LLC, the company behind the proposed Section 8 housing, said previously the company intended to replace 30 income-based apartments that were lost in a July 8 tornado. The project would encompass a total of 44 units constructed on three sites.

In February, Stenson presented his funding intentions, which included a payment in lieu of taxes, or PILOT, during a special meeting of the commission.

"The PILOT program itself is for $20,000 a year, with a three percent increase annually for 17 years, as opposed to the taxes that would normally would be represented in a project this size," Shawn Kessel, city administrator said Monday.


Kessel said the 30 units which stood previously prior to being lost in a tornado drew about $13,700 a year in property taxes.

The matter is expected to be discussed at the next commission meeting, slated for May 3, Kessel said. A resolution regarding the tax reduction for the project could be voted on at that time.

In a separate matter, Dickinson Police Department Chief Chuck Rummel said for the third consecutive month there has been a decline in accidents, with 65 recorded accidents in March, 56 of which had over $1,000 worth of damage.

Traffic has increased with oil activity, he added.

"We're seeing an increase in traffic, we're also seeing an increase in calls," Rummel said. "We're not seeing a lot of the more dangerous calls, or serious calls, but we are seeing an increase in calls when we're going to more disputes, some bar fights, that kind of thing. We're able to maintain and keep track of it and keep on task with it."

Rummel, who said he has been with the department since about 1978, said he gives credit to the oil companies.

"They've gotten a lot tighter when it comes to drug use and abuse," Rummel said. "That's the big difference we're seeing right now. I see them (companies) taking action the minute one of their employees are using drugs, whereas in '78 and '80, the bosses would come and bail them out of jail when we had them."

Rummel said the department would have additional staff on duty during prom weekends.


In other matters:

*Renee Paasch has been appointed interim library director due to the retirement of Cheryl Tollefson.

* The first reading of a cell phone policy, which governs the use, distribution and reimbursement to city staff when using cell phones for work, passed unanimously.

* Christa McCollum of Heart River Elementary and Ali Daniel of Dickinson Trinity Elementary East were named "Mayors for a Day", and sat in on the commission meeting Monday, taking part in some aspects of the meeting.

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