Things could have been a lot worse -- that was the word Tuesday from City Hall on how St. Paul fared at the State Capitol this session.

Although not everything has been signed by Gov. Tim Pawlenty yet, some city officials were pleased with what made it through the legislative deadline:


$70 million for the Central Corridor light-rail project.

The creation of a new downtown tax-increment-financing district to help pay off RiverCentre convention center debt.

$6 million of local government aid to go toward the projected $13 million budget deficit in 2009.

$300,000 to go toward the completion of a new home for Como Zoo's polar bears.

"We were able to finish with an OK session for St. Paul," said Mayor Chris Coleman.

WHAT MADE A COMEBACK: Pawlenty's line-item vetoes from the bonding bill last month hit St. Paul hard: All of the city's requests were axed. But the Central Corridor funding was restored in the final days of the session, along with the polar bear money.

The local government aid helps, but a provision to limit increases in city and county property taxes to 3.9 percent annually for the next three years was disappointing, said Sara Grewing, Coleman's chief of staff.

While a request to forgive the loan on the Xcel Energy Center didn't make it through negotiations, the new TIF district will help pay off debt on the RiverCentre and free up other money for maintenance, marketing and improvements in the so-called Minnesota Event District. That area includes the RiverCentre, Xcel Energy Center, Science Museum of Minnesota and Ordway Center for the Performing Arts.

The existing downtown TIF district is to expire this summer, which would have put about $6.4 million back on the tax rolls.

The new district will not increase taxes, said Matt Smith, the city's finance director. About $1.5 million a year will go to Ramsey County, he said, and $1.8 million to the fiscal disparities pool. That leaves about $3.5 million per year to be used for the $43 million in convention center debt.

"It will be very helpful to have that money," said Karolyn Kirchgesler, president and CEO of the RiverCentre Convention and Visitors Authority.