A plan to build a new Vikings stadium in downtown Minneapolis is starting to take shape – but not everyone is behind the latest proposal, as Gov. Mark Dayton recently pointed out.
Among those still on the fence are some members of the Minneapolis City Council who oppose city funding for the stadium without a public referendum.
Dayton said that those members should remember that the plan includes property tax relief, which could have an especially large impact on downtown businesses and residents.
“The enterprises and residents in downtown Minneapolis pay one-third of all the property taxes throughout the entire city of Minneapolis,” Dayton said in a March 5, 2012 interview with MPR’s Kerri Miller. “So it’s the vitality of the downtown, a property tax relief fountain for people who live elsewhere in the city. I think it’s shortsighted on their part.”
Dayton’s claim is easily checked, and it offers a chance to take a closer look at the stadium financing plans.
Dayton is highlighting the property tax issue because stadium backers want to use a financing mechanism that would both pay for the new stadium and pay off debt on the Target Center.
The plan would extend the life of city sales taxes that are currently being used to pay off bonds for the Convention Center. In 2020, those bonds will be paid off, and that means some of the sales tax can be used for the stadium.
The city envisions chipping in $150 million help pay for building the stadium, and an additional $7.5 million annually for operating costs.
That approach still leaves sales tax cash available for other things, including paying off debt on the Target Center, which is covered Minneapolis property taxes. If sales taxes were instead used to pay the city’s roughly $5 million in Target Center debt, it would mean a roughly 2 percent property tax reduction for Minneapolis residents and businesses, said R.T. Rybak spokesman John Stiles.
Dayton argues that the plan would be especially beneficial for those in downtown Minneapolis, who pay a third of the city’s property taxes.
According to data provided by the city’s finance office, Dayton is in range: Downtown residents and businesses paid 28 percent of the nearly
$52 million $267.1 million in property taxes collected last year.
Still, at least one Minneapolis council member says the benefit isn’t worth the additional debt because many residents wouldn’t see huge changes in their property taxes.
“It’s not a good trade-off to take $20 dollars off a property tax bill,” said Gary Schiff who represents the city’s Ninth Ward.
Dayton’s claim about property taxes in downtown Minneapolis is nearly correct: businesses and residents in the heart of the city paid a little less than a third of all the city’s property taxes last year.
MPR News, Gov. Dayton on the Vikings stadium, budget, March 5, 2012
MPR News, Vikings stadium meets skeptical Minneapolis City Council, by Curtis Gilbert and Jon Collins, March 1, 2012
Property tax data, City of Minneapolis, March 6, 2012
Phone interview, John Stiles, spokesman, Mayor R.T. Rybak, March 6, 2012
Phone interview, Gary Schiff, Ninth Ward Council Member, March 7, 2012