The Citizens League has stepped in to help St. Paul figure out if, and how, the city’s tax-exempt property owners should chip in for services.
The nonprofit organization is creating a panel that will spend the next several months studying whether St. Paul should follow the lead of cities like Boston that have “payment in lieu of taxes” programs. The panel will present its recommendations by August, so they can inform the city’s 2018 budget, Citizens League Executive Director Sean Kershaw said.
St. Paul is short on cash after the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled last year that its assessment process, which it used to pay for street maintenance, amounted to an additional tax. The city was assessing all property owners with street frontage, including churches, hospitals, colleges and other tax-exempt institutions.
Now, it is trying to come up with another way to get those institutions — which make up a third of the city’s property owners — to help pay for city services.
The panel will discuss “what it means for all of us to be doing our part and paying our fair share,” Council Member Jane Prince said Wednesday, when the City Council signed off on asking the Citizens League to create the panel.