July 14, 2023 at 12:03 p.m.
Wyoming Council looks at 72 unit building
A proposal for a 72 unit apartment building in Wyoming got a thumbs-up from city council, with member Dennis Schilling absent last week. In a re-scheduled July 4 council session held July 5, the ReuterWalton housing development group sought a resolution in support of the apartment project, as part of an extensive tax credits application that goes to the Minnesota housing finance agency. The annual state allocation for developments has a late July deadline, with winning projects announced at the end of 2023. If all goes as planned the project will be constructed October 2024 into later in 2025.
Three of the four council members present voted aye. Mayor Lisa Iverson noted that studies show that employers highlight the need for “workforce housing’ in the greater Chisago County area; and she listed a few Wyoming-based enterprises with staffing who could likely be future apartment residents. She said these folks go to local restaurants etcetera and this project “...will impact the community in a positive way.”
Linda Nanko Yeager was opposed saying she was concerned about the estimated length of Tax Increment Financing involved.
Consultants advised council that the TIF term is authorized in state law to go 25 years, so that’s what the resolution includes, but local projects all have varying payback terms. TIF payback is reliant on property tax valuation of a project and the current Wyoming estimate uses very conservative increases in valuation of less than two percent annually. Locally there’s been much greater improvement in property valuations. The “increment” redirected to reimburse the developer for eligible expense is based on the difference between the existing parcel’s valuation and the increase assigned to the parcel upon the project completion. In this case, taxes have been about $600 annually. The property tax planned to be redirected back annually to cover project expenses is estimated to run about $37,000 for a total estimated eligible reimburseable $397,000. If the apartment building’s valuation escalates at a faster pace than what’s projected in the current information— that will impact the payback.
The reimbursement may include interest, but it’s at the same interest rate as when the project was financed, council heard.
TIF was created by the state legislature to expedite projects of community benefit that meet the “but for” test. If not for certain costs being covered, the project would not be feasible. In this project the TIF reimbursement eases future increases in rental costs.
The apartment building’s proposed location is on the west side of the Sunrise Prairie Trail almost right across from city hall. It will be a rectangle-shaped building, accessed from the west by a cul-de-sac street.
The action last week only allows the project to move forward and apply for financing. A public hearing is still part of the process. The council was advised there is no commitment to anything at this point.
The city staff said the only other TIF district in the city at this time is applied to East Viking Commons and expires in 2026.
Wyoming has also achieved step three of the five steps in the “Green Step City” program.
The city enrolled in the statewide effort in 2017. “Steps” are made as ordinances are updated for land use standards that help cut down on fragmentation of open spaces, or that address shore land and environmental concerns, and the city can be part of the Tree City project, it can also adopt policy promoting fleets that are fuel efficient, or can change out lighting for LED fixtures, and reduce I-T energy usage among a host of other practices.
There are only three other Chisago County municipalities participating Rush City, North Branch and Stacy.