Park Rapids Schools moving cautiously on housing tax abatement

The last piece of the contract puzzle for Park Rapids High School additions and renovations was put in place on Tuesday, Feb. 21.

Park Rapids Century School
Park Rapids Enterprise file photo

Business Manager Kent Fritze told the Park Rapids School Board Tuesday that he was meeting this week with Ehlers financial advisors to learn more about the Heartland Lakes Development Commission’s (HLDC) request for a 15-year tax abatement to help fund a workforce housing development in Park Rapids.

Mary Thompson, HLDC executive director, had asked the school board on Feb. 6 to consider granting a tax abatement on the increased valuation of property in the Career Path neighborhood, where they propose to build a 58-unit apartment complex.

At that time, Thompson had explained this would not take away from the market value currently being taxed, but would only delay when the district starts to receive revenue on the additional value of the property.

In a “quick analysis” of what this proposal would involve, Fritze said, based on the change of valuation of adjacent land where two apartment buildings were completed in 2020-21, this could mean abating $315,000-$450,000 over 15 years, or $18,000 to $25,000 per year.

“As a perspective,” he said, the schools’ enrollment would need to grow by 3-5 students to pay for the abatement. “So, if they build a new apartment building, and we have three new students that come, that would basically pay for the abatement.”


He said more analysis and clarification is needed before the school board makes a decision.

Bid award

The school board also awarded a bid for a work scope within the high school improvement project that had been rebid.

No bids on the work scope for doors, frames and hardware supply were received prior to the Jan. 24 bid opening on 22 different work scopes involved in the estimated $37 million worth of high school additions and renovations.

According to a bid recommendation letter from Project Manager Justin Maaninga with ICS, bids for this last work scope were opened on Feb. 14, and ICS recommended awarding the base bid of $630,000 to Sell Hardware of Duluth.

A bid tabulation provided by ICS shows that the low bidder was actually Wheeler Hardware Co. Additional bidders included Central Door and Hardware Inc. and Mid-Central Door.

With regard to the project’s budget and cost estimates, Superintendent Lance Bagstad said the Sell Hardware bid is “a favorable bid.”

Robin Fish is a staff reporter at the Park Rapids Enterprise. Contact him at or 218-252-3053.
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