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Andrea Domaskin, Published November 20 2007

Microsoft to receive tax break

Microsoft will receive a 10-year, multimillion-dollar tax break on an addition to its south Fargo site, city commissioners decided Monday.

The company plans to add 207 jobs in 2009, the first year of the exemption. All would pay more than $15 per hour, according Microsoft’s application for the incentive.

“We don’t have a lot of applicants that are bringing 200 jobs at the salary these jobs are being brought in at,” City Assessor Ben Hushka said after Monday’s meeting.

In return, Microsoft will receive a 10-year payment-in-lieu-of-taxes exemption, as recommended last month by the Tax-Exempt Re-view Committee.

The project will receive a complete tax exemption for five years, worth $817,687 per year, and a 50 percent break on the new construction for the remaining five years.

By The Forum’s calculation, the incentive totals $6.13 million.

The exemption is likely the largest Fargo has granted for an expansion, Hushka said.

Commissioners voted unanimously to approve the project after a public hearing Monday.

“We’re very proud to have Microsoft as part of our city,” Mayor Dennis Walaker said.

Walaker told Microsoft site leader Don Morton that one of his greatest concerns as mayor is that Microsoft would leave the city.

“I would be very disappointed if that happened on my watch,” Walaker said. “That’s why I was so excited when they announced their plans for building.”

The software company is expected to take two years for an expansion that includes a new 120,000-square-foot building and additions to existing buildings. It estimates the value of the construction involved in the exemption at $35 million.

The company broke ground on the project Oct. 4.

In other business, the commission:

- Approved new precinct locations. Under Cass County’s new plan, Fargo voters would head to the polls at one of 16 locations instead of 37. None are in schools.

Cass County commissioners will likely review the countywide precinct changes Dec. 3, County Auditor Michael Montplaisir said.

- Gave final approval to a new smoking ban that has different language but the same effect as the current ban, which exempts enclosed bars and truck stops.

Old Broadway co-owner Randy Thorson presented commissioners in September with signatures and requested a public vote on the proposal. He wanted it on the June ballot to provide voters with a second choice if another group initiates a complete smoking ban.

Commissioners decided two weeks ago to adopt Thorson’s proposal instead of sending it to voters.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Andrea Domaskin at (701) 241-5556 Microsoft to receive tax break Andrea Domaskin 20071120