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Tax freeze program expansion considered
Mike Weatherspoon.jpg

A boundary expansion is under consideration for a downtown program that provides a tax freeze incentive to owners and developers to rehab existing buildings or start new construction.

McMinnville Downtown Revenue Financial Corporation PILOT (payment in lieu of taxes) program provides a property tax freeze to qualified applicants. Both city and county property taxes are frozen at pre-development rates for up to 15 years for building renovations and up to 10 years for new construction. 

MDRFC members Rodney Boyd and Mike Weatherspoon addressed members of the county’s Economic and Agricultural Development Committee. 

“The bottom line is, we are wanting to expand the boundaries of what we have right now,” said Boyd. “Ever since we’ve been in existence, our sole area of operation has been in downtown McMinnville, the historic district of downtown McMinnville. We provide tax relief for someone who wants to go in and either build a building on a vacant property or rehab an old building that needs revitalized.”

The program was first chartered in 2007. Its members are appointed by both city and county governments.

MDRFC is for commercial properties and businesses that provide office/ retail use and residential housing in the upper story. The expansion would be into areas currently zoned residential/ commercial mixed use and commercial use by the city of McMinnville: R-3 thru R-5 and C-1 thru C-3. It excludes single-family dwelling zones and industrial zones. 

“If somebody has an empty lot and the current state appraisal on the empty lot is $20,000 and they wanted to construct a $100,000 building, they would make payments in lieu of taxes on the $20,000 base,” said Weatherspoon. “The amount of time they would get to do that would depend on what exactly they did with the building.” 

If a property owner or developer doesn’t want to use the program, they are not required to do so. 

“We think we are too restricted in our current boundaries,” said Weatherspoon. We would like to expand. We want to help more people, if they want it. This program isn’t mandatory. It’s completely voluntary.” 

Due to the incentive being a property tax freeze, both the Warren County Commission and McMinnville Board of Mayor and Aldermen must agree to allow the expansion.

“This looks like a win-win situation,” said Commissioner Ron Lee. “If the property is in disrepair, it’s not bringing in much revenue anyway. This is a good incentive for them to renovate.” 

The presentation will be made before members of the county Financial Management Committee and members of the county Budget and Finance Committee. A resolution, at some point, will be under consideration by the full Warren County Commission.