Yesterday, the city held a closed door meeting “to discuss pending litigation in First Baptist Church of St. Paul, et al v. City of Saint Paul and Christina Anderson, et al v. City of Saint Paul”.
No further details were shared, but it’s likely that the city attorney has (finally) looked at the adverse decision by Judge Millenacker in First Baptist (2018) that assessments under the SMSP are still taxes, not fees, despite the changes the city made to the old ROW program in 2016. Although that case relates to street sweeping rather than mill & overlay, the legal principles are broadly similar. In fact, it could be said that the city has even less of a case to call street resurfacing a fee than it does for street sweeping under Minnesota law.
Making – or amending – policy with the benefit of solid legal advice is a basic principle of good government. With the broader conversation happening around how to maintain a sustainable transportation policy in St. Paul, there’s a real opportunity to start afresh.