What’s making news in Minneapolis, reported by the Star Tribune’s team of city reporters. Send news tips to suzanne.ziegler@startribune.com.

Minneapolis City Council panels sign off on streetcar funding

Posted by: Eric Roper Updated: June 18, 2013 - 1:05 PM

The City Council gave initial approval Tuesday to a plan to redirect up to $60 million in property taxes to help pay for a streetcar line along Nicollet and Central Aves.

Those taxes would be redirected from several major apartment projects -- about 1,200 units total -- already underway in and around downtown. The city would still need to secure state, regional or federal funds to pay for the rest of the $200 million project.

Mayoral aide Peter Wagenius said Tuesday the city hopes the line will be operated by the Metropolitan Council -- which would include incurring operations costs. He also said in an interview that the $200-$220 million cost only covers what's known as "K-Mart to Kramarczuk's," a 3.2-mile first phase far short of the city's full vision for the line.

The city's budget and transportation committees approved the proposal on a voice vote Tuesday morning. It still requires approval from the full council, likely next week, and the "value capture district" must be certified by Hennepin County.

Council Member Meg Tuthill abstained, saying she has concerns about what the Met Council's role will be and whether partners will provide sufficient commitments in the future.

“There’s just too many unanswered questions for me today to be able to vote in support of this," Tuthill said. "So what I’m going to do is abstain and continue digging and getting as many answers to questions as I possibly can.”

Cam Winton and Bob Carney, both of whom are running for mayor, testified in opposition to the plan.

Photo: A streetcar in Portland, Oregon.

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