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City forgives loans to Ruth Meiers Hospitality House

BISMARCK, N.D. — The Bismarck City Commission of Tuesday forgave $35,608 in federal Community Development Block Grant funds awarded to the Ruth Meiers Hospitality House for two facilities the nonprofit previously owned, but sold. However, commissioners also placed a two-year moratorium before it approves more CDBG funds for Ruth Meiers.

The city originally had given the CDBG funds to Ruth Meiers to improve the facilities for homeless services at the 1800 block of Broadway Avenue and for a women/children’s emergency services shelter at Front Avenue.

Both properties have been sold since Ruth Meiers moved its transitional housing services to the former Baptist Home at Boulevard Avenue and 11th Street, according to commissioners.

City Commissioner Josh Askvig said the city is allowed to forgive the CDBG funds, if the amount was less than $25,000 for each building.

Askvig said the city had awarded about $22,000 in CDBG funds to Ruth Meiers Hospitality House for the property at the 1800 block of Broadway and more than $13,000 in CDBG funds for the former women’s and children emergency homeless shelter on Front Avenue.

Askvig said the commission understood that funding received from selling these two buildings will be used to help Ruth Meiers’ new transitional housing facility on Boulevard Avenue and still helps its programs. He added that not all of the services previously offered will be available at the new site on Boulevard Avenue. The commission felt it was best to wait two years before approving more CDBG funds for the nonprofit, Askvig said.

Renaissance Zone

The commission approved George Yineman’s request to create a Renaissance Zone project at 501 E. Main Ave. Yineman will lease 561 more square feet of the building. He already leases about 1,558 square feet of the building.

Yineman plans to invest $17,100 to remodel the new space by removing and relocating interior walls, adding new lighting, carpeting and paint.

With the improvements done as a Renaissance project, he will qualify for $5,000 in state income tax breaks over five years. Yineman will use the improved space for a real estate broker’s office.

Special assessment

Commissioners also upheld its policy to continue taxing mobile home parks as commercial properties for a $1.97 million stormwater and street maintenance improvement project. The project is located at Riverwood Drive and Mills Avenue.

Mobile home park owners protested the special assessment district tax formula to pay for the project because they felt the mobile home court residents would be charged twice — both as residential and commercial property owners. The mobile home park owners said the special assessment tax should be residential, not commercial.

City Commissioner Parrell Grossman said the city commission decided to use the commercial property tax formula for the special assessment based upon state requirements. He said it would be defined as commercial due to the high density of mobile homes placed on one parcel of property.

Grossman said the commercial special assessment tax would only apply to mobile home park owners not those renting lots there.

“It’s up to the park owners if they want to pass the cost of the special assessment to the renters,” he said.

Reach LeAnn Eckroth at 701-250-8264 or leann.eckroth@bismarcktribune.com.

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