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Bend To Consider Changes To MUPTE

BEND, OR -- Bend Mayor Melanie Kebler is defending the city’s Multi-Unit Property Tax Exemption, after the City Council approved its second application this week. She says giving a tax break to projects like Jackstraw, near the Box Factory, and Platform, in the former Les Schwab facility on Franklin, doesn’t take money away from the city, "The idea is it’s a long-term plan to make some investments up front; but in the end, we see increased tax revenues because we’ve developed the area into buildings like the Jackstraw or other places where there’s homes and there’s commercial activity."

But, she admits the MUPTE program needs adjusting. "This is our first round of applications in the first year it’s been open. And so, I think we always intended to come back and say, ‘okay, what kind of applications did we get and do we need to make changes?’" Kebler tells KBND News, "There’s two more applications we’re expecting to come through for a couple different projects. So, that’s what we’ve got in our first round. And starting in our next meeting, we’re going to talk about how do we update the program going forward."

Currently, an applicant must show the project provides three community benefits from a list of options. Kebler says, "Our public benefit list - do we need to change that and raise that bar? And, do we need to change the process to make it simpler and easier to understand?" She adds, "It makes sense that early pioneers into these areas might have a little bit less public benefit standards than ones that come in later, when there’s more established development in the area already."

A developer must also prove the project is not financially viable without the 10-year tax exemption. Construction began on Jackstraw three months before its MUPTE application was submitted. Councilor Mike Riley said this week that timeline proves the developer, Killian Pacific, has the necessary funding. Killian Pacific told the Council it was a misunderstanding. Kebler wants to consider changing the process, "I don’t want it to be confusing for developers or especially for the public. And I think it is a bit, right now."

Councilors expect to start those discussions at the next Work Session. 

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