The 2019 city election provides a unique opportunity to raise and discuss serious issues about how the city conducts its business when working within an effective community process. The challenge is regarding transparency and candor.
For too long, the city has relied on blind and obedient endorsements by a single-party city council of questionable and often clearly illegal practices. The city too often relies on a cynical “sue us if you don’t like it” approach to challenges of its actions.
When the stakes are high enough, the parties have sued and too often won substantial judgments against the city. For example:
Minnesota Courts have overruled the city’s bizarre claims that it can collect as fees its entire $33 million public works budget. That was the ruling of the Supreme Court in First Baptist Church of St. Paul v. City of St. Paul. The district court subsequently denied again the city’s claim to a fee power. These court cases make clear that the city should use regular property taxes to fund its public works budget if it cannot, as it has admitted, show that its projects cause any special benefit (increase in value) to the properties charged. All other Minnesota cities use regular taxes, why not St. Paul?
The city administration should stop playing cynical games with the voters. It is not “holding the line” on real estate taxes if it is charging the same amount (increasing 6% per year) in addition to regular taxes on our tax statements. The check for the total amount paid by the citizens is still an ever increasing total even though we are receiving ever decreasing services.
Prospective city council candidates should be asked:
Therefore, council candidates would do well to focus on the following concepts: