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TAX BREAKS PROPOSED FOR MOORHEAD RESTAURANTS - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

TAX BREAKS PROPOSED FOR MOORHEAD RESTAURANTS

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Minnesota is just one of seven states that pays waiters and waitresses full minimum wage plus tips. Which makes opening a restaurant on the other side of the river in Fargo a bit cheaper, and more appealing.

Monday night the Moorhead city council voted unanimously that they need to do something to bring more restaurants like the Speak Easy into town. Property tax exemptions are at the forefront of their conversations. The owner of the Speak Easy says the city needs to work to level the playing field.

Since 1977 the Speak Easy has been in the Marcil family name. They've dealt with the economy's ups and downs and say finally it's back on the up and up. That's not to say other restaurants don't have a distinct advantage.

Jim Macil the owner says it's not quite fair, "I mean it's obvious that we have a disadvantage to Fargo being that we don't have. Minnesota is one of the few states that doesn't observe a tip credit which would allow us to pay the waitresses and waiters a lesser wage...if I were to put my restaurant over in Fargo I would make about another 100 thousand dollars a year, profit."

When you can save money by putting your restaurant on the other side of the river, why wouldn't you? That's why Moorhead city council person Brenda Elmer is looking to double the time period for property tax exemptions on full and limited service restaurants. That would mean no property taxes for four to eight years in Moorhead.

Council person Elmer says it's just one step of potentially many, "there's no real silver bullet when it comes to attracting businesses and specifically restaurants. But we're hoping that several initiatives combined will make the difference and help level the playing field."

Which Mercil says, sounds a bit more fair, "I think Minnesota should take a look at it and say, hey a border city should be able to be just as competitive as the other side of the river."

A big box retailer is moving in just west of Menards in Moorhead. There will likely be restaurants being built there. Those property tax exemptions could be happening as soon as January for restaurants popping up.

Moorhead's council members have gone on record saying that one of the major complaints they hear from voters, is Moorhead doesn't have enough restaurants.

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