FL School Board OK’s city request for TIF extension

The Forest Lake School Board on Thursday night joined other area governmental agencies in supporting a city of Forest Lake request for a 10-year extension of a city tax-increment financing district that is set to decertify in 2015. Mayor Chris Johnson went before the school board and received a 7-0 vote to support the move.

The extension request is now at the state legislature where Sen. Ray Vandeveer, R-Forest Lake, and Rep. Bob Dettmer, F-Forest Lake, have introduced special legislation amendments to the omnibus tax bill to allow the extension. The city council, the Economic Development Authority and Washington County Board of Commissioners are all on board supporting the request.

Increments from the TIF district would become available to support some of the costs tied to a city proposal to redevelop the Northland Mall complex to house new retail offerings and as a site for a new city hall, and police and fire department homes. The mall project is part of overall improvements envisioned for the south Highway 61 corridor.

In addition to the mall project, a second proposal is for the redevelopment of the existing city hall site at 220 N. Lake St. with multifamily housing.

Johnson told the school board that the proposal is preliminary and the extension of the TIF district will only take place if deals can be reached for the two development projects. That has to be completed by the start of the next legislative session, Johnson said.