Is Ramsey County down for the stadium count?

Governor Mark Dayton said this week that Ramsey County needs to come up with a “Plan C” for its bid for a Vikings stadium.

Reviewing the stadium bids submitted to him last week, the governor said Wednesday that the half-percent sales tax initially proposed by the county wasn’t going to get a pass from the Legislature. State law requires a local referendum, and opponents are already well into a campaign to stop it.

An analysis distributed by the state says food and beverage taxes will like face the same hurdle, namely a referendum requirement and no legislative exemption.

The governor said the county needs to come up with a third way to stay in the stadium game.

But the county board agenda for next week makes no mention of any stadium. It’s the last meeting before the Legislature convenes for 2012– literally by hours.

And a key county commissioner says there’s good reason. They have nothing more to talk about.

Victoria Reinhardt, of White Bear Lake, is the board’s immediate past chair and heads the budget committee.

“What other option is there, as far as something that’s local option?” Reinhardt said when asked today about next week’s agenda. “There’s sales tax. There’s property tax. All of that is off the table. For good reason it’s off the table. So no, I do not see that there’s a way to come up with a local share to cover Ramsey County’s portion.”

She DID say that she’s very keen on the Arden Hills site, where the county and the Vikings have a handshake deal to build a $1.1 billion dollar stadium.

“My concern has always been that this is the largest Superfund site in the state. And we need to clean it up and we need to get in back on the tax rolls. And we need to do it now,” Reinhardt said. “This is our opportunity to do it, and I am hopeful and the governor has stated that he’s willing to step up to the plate, for Ramsey County, to get that done without the stadium.”

Vikings booster and county commissioner Tony Bennett, of Shoreview, agreed with Reinhardt that there isn’t going to be another offer of local money to answer the governor’s call. The only other option is property taxes, and even Bennett rules that out.

He’s still hoping, though, for a Hail Mary: that a gambling expansion will pick up the entire public tab for a stadium.

”We haven’t heard what’s going to happen with the racino. The governor says pull tabs are it. There’s money there, and they could do what should be done, which is spread the load around Minnesota a little bit more, because they are the Minnesota Vikings,” Bennett said.

Commissioner Jim McDonough, another stadium supporter, says county officials think lawmakers have given local taxes a pass on a referendum dozens of times, and that that’s all Ramsey County is asking for now — to be treated like others have been.

“There’s a lot more hurdles on the other side of the river,” said McDonough, of St. Paul, referring to a charter amendment that caps Minneapolis contributions to a stadium at $10 million. “The governor and the legislature seem to prefer to jump those hurdles.”

And while he says Ramsey County’s bid may still be a fall-back for the rival Minneapolis sites, he and his fellow commissioners are going to stand pat now.

:”There’s nothing more we can do,” McDonough said.

  • Mark D

    Tony Bennett has NEVER ruled out a Property Tax hike and he never would!

    If it would fill his pockets like all the rest of the Property Tax hikes he fell in love with in the past, a New Tax hike would be on the agenda.

    Ziggie must not have wanted to pay Bennett what he wanted to sweeten the pot on the backs of the Tax Payers!

    Its really sad to think how lucky the property owners in North MPLS are when that tornado

    hit them,, I was hoping that same tornado would have payed my over Taxed worthless property in St Paul a visit so I could be Free at last!