Star Tribune: St. Paul cuts street repair bills, but some still question fairness

The Star Tribune has reported on the city’s decision to reduce our street assessments (June 22nd 2019, pp. B1-B2).

The city didn’t announce how it had arrived at the reduced rates at the council meeting on June 19th. According to the Star Trib, the cost of federally required ADA-compliant curbs was the primary driver for the lower charges.

It’s also clear that some members of the council had hoped to do more:

Both Noecker and Brendmoen said they’d prefer shifting mill and overlay costs citywide, but they couldn’t garner support on the council for raising the city’s tax levy even higher.

As the above quote confirms, Mill & Overlay assessments are fundamentally revenue raising measures (i.e. taxes). They would be bundled with property taxes but for political pressure to keep the number low so that the less scrupulous members of the council can claim that property taxes aren’t going up on their watch.

Unlike some of their colleagues, CM Noecker and CP Brendmoen would prefer to be honest with their constituents about the overall tax burden.

We agree wholeheartedly with this approach. Let’s end the creative accounting and rebranding, and just call a tax a tax. Maybe then we can have a real conversation about how much it costs to run our city with our elected representatives, and start to rebuild some trust.

Read the full article: St. Paul City Council cuts street repair bills, but some still question fairness