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District 518’s turn to hear Nobles Home Initiative

WORTHINGTON — Having already presented to the Worthington City Council and the Nobles County Board of Commissioners, Abraham Algadi made District 518 his latest stop Tuesday morning.

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Algadi, manager of the Worthington Regional Economic Development Corp. (WREDC), spoke to district officials about the Nobles Home Initiative during a school board operations committee meeting.

“This initiative is a result of community leaders identifying the housing issue Worthington is facing,” Algadi said.

A housing study done in 2013 showed Worthington needs approximately 500 units by 2020.

“These numbers didn’t just come out of thin air,” Algadi explained. “This was arrived at by looking at population trends, employment trends and a number of other factors.”

The initiative is intended to give 100 percent tax abatement from the city, county and school district for new residential construction for a five-year period.

“Worthington needs roughly 80 units a year between rentals and homes,” Algadi said. “Right now, we’re at an average of four to six per year.”

Within the first year, an estimated $5.5 million worth of construction would take place with the home initiative, according to Algadi. That would include 40 multi-family units, three to six condo-style and four single-family homes.

“This tax abatement is one of the few programs that gives local government the control,” Algadi explained. “There are no strings attached like some state and federal housing programs.”

Algadi and members of the WREDC board in attendance spoke on the matter for almost an hour as members of District 518’s school board fired off concerns and questions about the tax abatement.

“I think one of the things we have to look at from the school’s perspective is developing 500 units in the next five years, how many school children will that bring in?” school board member Brad Shaffer said. “We talk about our enrollment and space issue at every meeting. This could possibly exacerbate that issue.

“I think at some point it will be about convincing our taxpaying base to build another school,” Shaffer added.

Kevin Donovan, who serves on the WREDC board, spoke on behalf of that entity’s behalf.

“I’m confident that our group of 18 board members will help the school in educating people on the referendum to get that passed,” Donovan said. “We don’t want to say to people, ‘Well, we don’t have room, so we shouldn’t grow’ — we should try and fix this together.”

Superintendent John Landgaard further explained the space issue the school is currently facing to the WREDC board.

“The Prairie Elementary building is designed to hold 1,150 students. Right now we’re over 1,200,” Landgaard said. “The middle school is designed to hold 850 — we’re at 820 students — and the high school is only supposed to hold 800 and we’ll have 825 next year. The operating referendum must pass because we’re not looking at any more cost for the taxpayers.”

Algadi ended the meeting by saying that he got a good indication of support for the tax abatement from both the county and the city.

“You’re our last leg,” he said to the school board.

An official decision on the issue will be made during next week’s regular school board meeting.

Daily Globe Reporter Erin Trester may be reached at 376-7322.

Erin Trester
Erin Trester is the crime and city reporter for the Daily Globe. She's a native of Lewiston, MN, but moved to Buffalo, NY to attend college and obtained her bachelor's degree in Communications. She started at the Western New York Catholic Newspaper as a reporter in Buffalo, but in October 2013 she returned to her home state to start with the Daily Globe. Most of her spare time is taken up by her 13-year-old thoroughbred named Faith, but some of her other hobbies include reading, fishing and spending time with friends and family. 
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