Property tax break for business draws fiery City Commission exchange

FSA Fargo City commission chambers.jpg
The Fargo City Commission chambers. Forum file photo

FARGO — Fargo City Commissioner Tony Gehirg and Dave Piepkorn had another heated exchange at this week's commission meeting over a five-year property tax break for a West Fargo business moving to an existing building in Fargo's industrial park, but it was approved nonetheless on a 4-1 vote.

Red E is moving to a much-needed larger building that it will share with another company at 2700 Seventh Ave. N. as Vice President Jesse Faul told The Forum after the meeting that their business is "exploding."

The eight-year-old mechanical engineering and manufacturing company mostly works with planter and air seeder replacement parts for a wide swath of Canada, the United States and even Russia and employs 15 people, with four added so far this year and plans to add another six as the business grows.

Gehrig, as he always does for any company seeking tax breaks, asked Faul if he would still do the project without the break and Faul said they likely would.

Faul, however, added later that the tax break was important and that if someone else offered better incentives they would "go in a heartbeat." However, he said they love North Dakota and want to stay here.


Gehrig's questioning again raised the ire of Piepkorn, who emphasized that Fargo is "competing against thousands of other cities and states around the country all day and every day."

Gehrig said business owners always tell him they would build here anyway without the breaks as they like the community, workforce, schools and housing and that's why they want to build or stay here.

"They know they can grow and succeed in Fargo . . . and we see it over and over again," Gehrig said.

He said he doesn't blame the companies for asking, but it's the City Commission's policy that he thinks should stop.

"Obviously you're an economic development expert," Piepkorn then said to Gehrig. He said the commissioner has a political bias and is pushing an agenda.

"If we don't participate they'll go somewhere else. They have thousands of options," Piepkorn said.

Faul said the company hopes to move into the new building in May, as they are overcrowded in their current rental building.

He said they plan to do some remodeling in the outdated building that was constructed in 1977.

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