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Associated Press, Published April 18 2013

Minot tax collections lower than expected

MINOT, N.D. — Minot's tax collections are down compared to the past two years, and construction companies say the long winter is at least partly to blame.

Sales tax collections for the first quarter of 2013, from January through March, dropped 36 percent from 2012 and 12.5 percent from 2011, the Minot Daily News reported Thursday (http://bit.ly/13qaqgB ).

City officials had expected the number to be down when compared with last year because of the amount of rebuilding that followed the devastating 2011 flood that prompted a record-breaking number of building permits to be issued. But even with modest projections, the city still hauled in less than officials had expected, said City Finance Director Cindy Hemphill.

Mitch Kraft, president of the Minot Association of Builders, said that the lower tax collections are a product of a cold, long winter that has yet to give way to spring. The mild winter of 2011-2012 allowed a lot of work to continue, he said, and contractors were already working hard at this time last year.

This year, parts of the state have seen record snowfalls this month. Minot on Thursday hovered around the freezing mark.

Kraft said only a handful of commercial projects that began in the fall have been able to produce work this winter. When the weather changes, he said there will be such a boom in activity that “it will be like somebody turned on a light switch.”

Building permit values through March of this year total nearly $67 million. That compares to a record $83 million for the same period in 2012, and $26.4 million in 2011.

Curt Schaefer, manager of Minot Lumber and Hardware, said he expects the city to have another busy construction season once the weather allows it.

“We certainly would have hoped we would have been going pretty strong already,” he said. “The weather is definitely holding things up.”

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