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Editorial: Time for abatement

The Worthington City Council, during its Monday night meeting, revised its proposal for a tax abatement in new home construction within city limits. It is now time for both District 518 and Nobles County to also go forward with this plan.

In its current form, the tax abatement would be offered for a maximum of three years and be available to an individual building a single-family home of any value on an existing bare lot in Worthington. Originally, the plan called for tax abatements only on homes with an assessed market of $200,000 or more; it was also for a period of five years rather than three.

Nobles County commissioners, during their Dec. 8 meeting, shot down the abatement proposal (it had been revised from five to three years prior to that meeting) by a 3-2 margin. That action may have led the city council to amend its plan once more on Monday, but at this point it remains to be seen if the county will continue to be pursued as a partner. Instead, it appears the next step for the city will be seeking approval from the District 518 board, and then going from there.

In a Sept. 27 Daily Globe editorial, we urged proceeding with caution when it came to approving a tax abatement plan, questioning both its length and the need for -- and fairness of -- an abatement for new, higher-valued properties. At the time, we suggested a trial of one year to see if there were potential benefits.

Since then, the abatement has become more inclusive (all new home construction) and shortened in terms of commitment (three years versus five). Housing is a definite need in Worthington, and an abatement -- which in turn would act as a stimulus -- is as good a solution as any. Let's hope the school district and the county get on board.