Dear Mayor Carter, Council members, members of the Planning Commission, and community organization officers:
We are writing in opposition to the University of St. Thomas proposal to alter the Ford site plan to build sports facilities. There are two compelling reasons to reject this plan: tax revenue and the housing shortage.
Saint Paul is in a dire situation with respect to local tax revenue. Despite having some of the highest property tax rates in the state
, our city faces perennial challenges paying for essential services, particularly education
and public works
which have been hit hard by years of burgeoning needs
, chronic state disinvestment
, and deferred maintenance. This is exacerbated by the relatively high concentration of nontaxable real estate
in the city, much of it owned by private educational and religious institutions that consume public services but do not produce a public good. Many of these same institutions were plaintiffs in recent legal challenges
to the city's various attempts to get them to pay their fair share; the success of these lawsuits displaced millions of dollars of liability onto taxpayers, resulting in a 20% property tax increase
. Simply put, Saint Paul taxpayers cannot afford this massive, permanent tax subsidy.
The current plan for the Ford site
is to develop it for residential and commercial use. This is in the best interest of the city because it will help alleviate the housing shortage crisis and also expand the local tax base. A nontaxable sports facility does nothing to advance either of these goals.
Andrew Lyman-Buttler, St. Paul, MN
Wendy Lyman-Buttler, St. Paul, MN