The Tax Abatement Program applies to multi-family or mixed use development and is tied to improvements to the property, not to the underlying property value.
The current Program was adopted in 2011 and was set to expire on Oct. 1. It targeted three specific areas where more compact housing was needed: the Town Center, Freeway/Tourist area and the 216th Street SW area.
Since the adoption of the Program, the City saw two projects in the Town Center that utilized the program – Arbor Village and Vineyard Park.
The Ordinance extends the application deadline to Oct. 1, 2017. An individual then would have three years plus a one year grace period to complete the project and apply for the abatement. The abatement period would then run for eight years so the Program is effective through Oct. 2, 2029.
In speaking about the Ordinance that extended the Program, Mountlake Terrace Community and Economic Development Steve Osguthorpe said that one of the benefits is that it would recognize the slow recovery of the economy from the recession.
“The incentive does help development occur,” Osguthorpe added.
At a work session, the idea of excluding the 216th Street SW area/Albertson’s site was raised. That area has been pretty much developed. The City Attorney advised that since Monday’s Public Hearing on the Property Tax Abatement Regulations Ordinance didn’t specify the changing of the benefit area, the City would be required to re-advertise the Public Hearing.
City staff recommended the adoption of the Ordinance and added that the Council then could consider amendments to the Ordinance at a future date. The Planning Commission also recommended the extension of the Program.
Mayor Pro Tem Laura Sonmore noted that the main focus has been on the Town Center and she expressed some concern about the length of the abatement, which runs through 2029. Sonmore also was interested in looking at land preservation in the three designated areas.
In the end, the Council, with the exception of Bryan Wahl, who was absent, voted to adopt the Ordinance. Some Councilmembers expressed a willingness to consider changes to the Property Tax Abatement Program in the future.