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Coleman: St. Paul faces $9.6 million budget gap

Posted by: Kevin Duchschere under People and neighborhoods, Politics and government, Urban living Updated: July 9, 2014 - 3:07 PM

St. Paul faces a budget deficit of $9,6 million in 2015, St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman says -- and next month he'll deliver his recommendations on how best to close that gap.

In a statement released Wednesday, the mayor said that he will host four public meetings in the next few weeks to get feedback on residents' funding priorities. People also will be able to share their thoughts online.

"It is critically important that we make it as easy as possible for St. Paul residents to participate in discussions about our investment priorities," Coleman said.

The mayor announced that he will deliver his annual budget address on August 13 at the Schmidt Artist Lofts, the recently-finished West 7th Street project that transformed an old brewery with the help of public money into housing for artists with low to moderate incomes.

It won't be clear until next month whether Coleman will seek a property tax hike to erase the deficit. In the meantime, he has asked each city department to look for ways to cut costs while preserving essential services. It's an instruction that many St. Paul mayors, including the incumbent, have issued at this time of year.

Last August, the mayor proposed no increase in the tax levy, saying that additional state aid had made it possible for St. Paul to close an $11.5 million gap without additional tax revenues. It was only the second time in eight years that Coleman did not seek a higher tax levy; for most of his time in office, he and the City Council have raised the levy to cover budget shortfalls caused by a tight economy and declining government aid.

After Coleman offers his budget recommendations, the City Council has until the end of the year to agree on a final budget.

Residents wanting to submit their ideas are welcome to visit the city website -- www.stpaul.gov -- or go to Twitter, using the hashtag #stpaulbudget.

Here's a list of the public meetings scheduled for community budget talks:

July 16: Wellstone Center, Neighborhood House, 179 E. Robie St., 5:30-6:30 p.m.

July 23: Golden Thyme Coffee and Cafe, 921 Selby Av., 9-10 a.m.

July 26: J & S Bean Factory, 1518 Randolph Av., 3-4 p.m.

August 1: Hmong Village, 1001 Johnson Pkwy., 1:30-2:30 p.m.

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