Tax deal contains goodies for Minneapolis and St. Paul

Tucked away in the tax bill that passed the House yesterday were several items on Minneapolis and St. Paul’s legislative wishlists.

An image from the 2007 Minneapolis Streetcar Feasibility Study. (Courtesy Minneapolis)
  1. A proposed Minneapolis streetcar line gets a $50 million dollar boost thanks to a provision allowing the city to redirect taxes collected from properties along the line to pay for its construction. The city estimates the line will cost a total of $200 million, but the project is still in the planning phase.
  2. St. Paul gets to extend its half-cent sales tax for an extra 12 years, through 2042. The tax was scheduled to expire in 2030. St. Paul also retains its authority to issue up to $20 million in bonds every year until 2024. That authority would have lapsed at the end of this year without legislative action.
  3. The two cities get to work out a truce between the concert arenas they each own.  The Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul and the Target Center in Minneapolis currently compete to host the touring shows that come through the Twin Cities, driving down the rents they can charge. The two venues now have until 2015 to merge their governance, marketing and scheduling operations, ending that bidding war.

The tax bill provides some consolation to the the state’s two largest cities, which were no doubt disappointed by the House’s failure to pass a bonding bill last week. It looks like the Nicollet Mall overhaul and Minnesota Children’s Museum expansion will have to wait until next year.