Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here:

Friday, July 24, 2009

NRP Funding Plan at Risk

To my surprise (and without my vote), earlier this week the Community Development committee forwarded without recommendation the proposal to renew the Tax Increment Financing districts that would enable us to pay for the new phase of NRP and retire the Target Center’s debt.

After hearing from three former elected officials, including former Congressman Martin Sabo, who opposed the plan, my colleagues seemed to be less supportive of this hard-fought compromise than they previously had been. Recall that we fought hard for legislative authority to extend these Tax Increment districts just last year and, when we approved the budget, we passed a resolution supporting this funding plan.

I think we should approve this plan now, so I (unsuccessfully) moved it forward with recommendation but some Council Members apparently weren't so sure. Robert Lilligren was the only committee member to vote with me with the other four preferring to refer it to Ways and Means for consideration and/or to wait to see what the Mayor proposes in his budget.

I am extremely supportive of using these districts, in order to create a defined and reliable revenue stream for neighborhoods. If, as the speakers opposed to this suggested, neighborhood revitalization funding were made part of the general fund and the annual budget process they would not be as stable or dependable as they have been in the past. I also think that it is unfair to the Mayor not to be clear about whether or not the Council will make this funding source available for the general fund or reserve it for Target debt relief and neighborhood revitalization.

I hope that people who support neighborhood based planning and neighborhood directed investments will make their wishes known, even though the public hearing is over.

The next time this will come up will be at the Ways and Means Committee on Monday, July 27th at 1:30. If you wish your communications to reach all committee members you can send to them individual or send comments to them via the Committee Coordination, Anne Roth,

I understand concerns about using Tax Increment financing in this way and I do not think that it is good financial policy in general. However, in this case I do not believe we have a lot of options, and I think it is the best way we've found to fund this valuable and important work. It is also a decision and a commitment we already made (to each other and to the people of Minneapolis) as part of the NRP restructuring we have been working so hard on over the last 3 years.


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