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:

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Narrow Council Majority Supports Stadium Funding Bill

I thank everyone who attended the hearing before the City Council Intergovernmental Relations Committee yesterday, including several people from the Second Ward. I think the results were predictable, but still, for me, disappointing. The fact that those at the hearing were so divided and the fact that support for this passed the Council by the slimmest possible majority demonstrates how weak and flawed the plan is in my opinion.

Our best hope now is that the legislature will stop it and take some time to develop a plan that will work better for more stakeholders especially the people of Minneapolis. Short of that, there may be some amendments that would be helpful, including leaving off the section about our Charter limitations not applying. I would also like to see the unusual sunset provision taken out.

For those interested in learning more details from last night I wanted share the written information I presented at the hearing.

Here is a spreadsheet showing the properties that now pay property taxes that would become tax exempt under the proposal. Notice that over $450,000 a year will be taken out of the tax base. In my opinion this is a public subsidy that has largely been ignored.

Below are the main provision of the Resolution that adds Council support to the City's Legislative Agenda of the Mayor/Council President/Governor's financial proposal that would cost the City an estimated $675 million in sales taxes. It was moved by Council President Johnson right after the hearing.

"That the City’s legislative agenda for 2012 and subsequent years be amended to include support for a People’s stadium bill that would provide the following:

1. Repurpose and direct the use of the current state-authorized Convention Center taxes as follows:

a. To the City to be used to fund debt service, capital, operating and marketing expenses of the Convention Center and Target Center, and any other capital projects or economic development purposes; and

b.To a new stadium authority to be used to fund a portion of the capital and operating expenses of a new People’s stadium

2. Maintain the current state-authorized Convention Center taxes for at least as long as needed for the above purposes; and

3. The construction of a new stadium and improvements to Target Center must put Minneapolis residents to work, such that:

a. A percentage of construction contracts equal to or greater than other Minneapolis development projects must be awarded to women and minority owned businesses;

b. The construction workforce must include skilled minority, unskilled minorities and females and that workforce utilization goals must exceed current city goals;

c. The construction workforce must include workers from Minneapolis zip codes that have high rates of poverty and unemployment; and

d. Concessionaires at the new stadium must reflect the ethnic diversity of Minnesota.

4. That the Minnesota Vikings work with neighborhoods surrounding the People’s stadium to mitigate any negative game day impacts so that the stadium is viewed as a neighborhood asset.

Be it Further Resolved that the City’s support for a People’s stadium is dependent upon the concurrent authorizations to permit the use of the state-authorized Convention Center taxes for the Convention Center and Target Center as set forth above, to ensure the economic vitality of all these assets."

Here is the first amendment I made to Council Member Johnson's Resolution
To amend the 2012 Legislative Agenda as follows:

In the Municipal Governance : Minneapolis opposes :(page 9) add the following statement.

Legislation that includes any section or provision that stipulates that City of Minneapolis Charter limitations or provisions related to the financing of professional sports facilities or stadiums do not apply.

It failed on a 7-6 vote and CM Johnson's resolution passed by the same margin.

Here is the Motion I then made requesting that the Charter Commission look into the matter:

Request that the Charter Commission review the stadium financing bill to determine if the proposal for funding a Vikings stadium complies with the Minneapolis City Charter and if it requires a referendum as stipulated in the Charter in the following sections:

Section 9. - To Incur Indebtedness for Municipal Purposes on Request of Council.
Section 13. - Putting Professional Sports Facility Financing Before the Voters.

This motion passed 7 to 6 and so more discusson by the Charter Commission may be forthcoming, especially if a bill passes.

The main action we took yesterday was to amend our legislative agenda to support elements of a stadium bill based on the Mayor/Council President/Govenors proposal. This action will again come before the full Council for a final vote on May 11. The more essential vote, however, will be needed in the future. If a stadium a bill passes that includes the use of City sales tax money, it will need a council majority approving it in order for it to actually become state law. According to state law, these kinds of special, local laws must be approved within 30 days by the local governing body before they can take effect. If Council Members are concerned about taking a vote that would violate the charter, it seems to me that this will be the most relevant vote.

Lastly, the full hearing and committee discussion should be available for viewing at in a day or two.


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