With rental vacancies low and rents high, the city of St. Paul is offering property tax discounts to landlords who keep at least 20 percent of their apartments affordable to low-to-moderate income households. What’s that look like in real terms? A two-bedroom apartment rented out to a family of four for $1,273 per month may qualify for a 40 percent discount on property taxes. With the goal of preserving existing, nonsubsidized housing that happens to command below-market rents, the St. Paul City Council recently met as the Housing and Redevelopment Authority to support a citywide expansion of the state-authorized “4D” housing tax program. In an example presented by the city, a 120-unit apartment building might currently pay $123,000 in annual property taxes. If the property owner agreed to keep 24 units affordable for 10 years, their taxes would drop by about $10,000 per year. Previously, landlords interested in the state’s 4D tax classification could apply … [Read more...] about St. Paul landlords can shave 40% off property taxes — if they keep rents affordable
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Mitra Jalali Nelson’s first day as Ward 4 St. Paul City Council member was Sept. 5, the first day of school for most students in the city. “I was experiencing my own first day of school,” Nelson said. “I was sworn in at 9 and was in budget meetings by 10.” With her first months behind her, Nelson, who won a special election for the seat Aug. 14, looks to work toward her campaign pledge of increasing affordable housing while handling inherited to-do list items from her predecessor, Russ Stark. Stark left the council to serve as Mayor Melvin Carter’s chief resilience officer. Nelson represents an area encompassing Hamline-Midway, Merriam Park, St. Anthony Park and parts of Como and Macalester-Groveland. She will be up for re-election again in the fall and has already picked up a challenger. The daughter of Iranian and Korean immigrants, Nelson previously worked as an aide to Keith Ellison, the former member of Congress who is the incoming state … [Read more...] about St. Paul’s Mitra Nelson fights on behalf of her fellow renters
Melvin Carter is wrapping up his first year as St. Paul’s 46th mayor. Born and raised in St. Paul, Carter moved to Tallahassee, Florida, for college. After graduating, he returned to the Twin Cities to attend the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs and then began dabbling in local politics. Voters elected him to two terms on the City Council, representing St. Paul’s Ward 1 (which includes the Frogtown, Summit-University, Lexington-Hamline and Snelling-Hamline areas), before he stepped down to take a job in Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration in 2013. That was his last gig before being elected to St. Paul’s top job in November 2017, becoming the city’s first black mayor. MinnPost caught up with him this week to discuss his first year in the office: about the biggest challenges facing the city, and what is in store for 2019. This interview has been edited for length and clarity. MinnPost: What were the main issues of 2018 for you? … [Read more...] about ‘The biggest surprise is the number of big surprises’: a Q&A with St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter on his first year in office
Four months ago, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter had to answer what has become a controversial question: How much money should their cities spend on police in 2019? After several high-profile incidents of black men being killed by law enforcement in recent years, police-reform advocates have been looking to see how Minneapolis and St. Paul would approach public safety going forward. Recent cases of excessive force by local officers (and their dogs), as well as allegations of racism within the departments, have intensified criticism, too. So, while completing the annual task of presenting their budget proposals in August, the mayors approached the issue carefully, hoping to satisfy both activists seeking reform and residents worried about safety in their neighborhoods. In Minneapolis, Frey proposed a funding boost so that eight officers could move from desk jobs to beat work, increasing the number of cops on streets and backfilling their office positions … [Read more...] about The debate around policing is similar in Minneapolis and St. Paul. How the cities are responding is not.
St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter’s 2019 budget proposal seeks to fill more potholes, expand funding for anti-poverty initiatives and recreation centers, and bolster the city’s housing efforts. None of it will be free. In August, Carter proposed a $16 million increase to the city’s tax levy — an 11.5 percent tax hike to fund city services for the next year. Double-digit increases aren’t unprecedented in St. Paul, but they can be a difficult sell for property owners. Over the past six years, median home values in St. Paul have risen faster than inflation — and so have property taxes. With a final public hearing on the 2019 budget and tax levy scheduled for Wednesday, city council members are still negotiating with the mayor’s office how to trim the hike by at least a percentage point, or $1 million or more. “We’ve been committed to try to bring the levy down. … I think we’re pretty close,” said St. Paul City Council … [Read more...] about St. Paul City Council trying to trim mayor’s 11.5 percent tax hike proposal