For the first time since Mayor Chris Coleman took office, St. Paul won't be raising its property tax levy.

The City Council voted 5-2 on Wednesday to go along with Coleman's proposal of a 0 percent increase on the amount of money assessed property taxpayers in 2011.

It was a tough decision for many on the council given the recent history of the state cutting aid to local governments. The Legislature will deal with an expected $6 billion budget shortfall, and many local governments are expecting to lose the aid money they were promised. The state has certified $62.5 million in aid payments to St. Paul for 2011.

Some on the council questioned the wisdom of not raising any new revenue from property taxes with the specter of state aid cuts looming.

Council Member Lee Helgen suggested a 4 percent increase, but he withdrew his motion after discussion at the table showed he didn't have enough votes to override a promised veto from Coleman. Helgen and Russ Stark were the no votes.

Coleman has proposed a $470 million budget, after accounting moves, for next year. The levy would be $94.6 million, unchanged from 2010.

The city's portion of the property tax levy increased annually by 9 percent, 15 percent, 8 percent and 6 percent during Coleman's first term. Fees for services and permits also were increased in that time.

Coleman, who began his second term this year, is proposing no fee increases for 2011, except for a 2.1 percent increase to the public works right-of-way fund that will go toward fighting the emerald ash borer.

Other local governments around the metro have taken the tack of not raising taxes. Hennepin and Washington counties approved no increase, while Carver County voted for a 1.3 percent decrease from its 2010 levy.

Ramsey County approved a 2.7 percent maximum levy increase for 2011 while Minneapolis approved a 7.5 percent ceiling.

The effect of no increase means the owner of a median-value $155,000 home in St. Paul would see a $17 decrease on the city's portion of the tax bill.

The council will vote on the final 2011 budget and levy in mid-December. For more information, go to

Chris Havens • 612-673-4148