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St. Paul's proposed budget: $6.2 million in cuts, 6.5% property tax hike

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman hopes to spend less from the city's general fund next year, but state cuts mean he'll have to cut $6.2 million from the city budget and raise the property taxes by 6.5 percent in 2012.

The city also has to cut more from this year's budget to make up for less state money coming in, he said.

Coleman made his budget proposal in a speech at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall, which is still under construction in the old Fhima's/POP! space on Wabasha and Sixth streets.

State cuts mean the city has to cut about $15.5 million from the last five months of this year's budget and $12 million from next year's budget, he said.

Police, fire and the city attorney's office aren't expected to be largely impacted by the cuts, but 50 hours per week of service will be cut from libraries across the city.

In Minneapolis, Mayor R.T. Rybak is proposing a 2 percent property tax increase.

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Comments (3)

It would really be instructive if articles about budget cuts included actual budget numbers so the reader can judge the relative impact.

Too often "cuts" in government budgets are really reductions in what they had hoped to spend versus what they actually will spend, which year over year are not cuts at all.

It's worth noting what we'll actually be spending here in St. Paul, as reported by the Pioneer Press:

"If the mayor's proposal is approved, the city's total 2012 budget would be $493.1 million, up from $491.7 million in 2011.

That includes a 2012 general fund budget of about $229 million, down 0.65 percent from the 2011 general fund budget of about $230.6 million."

That's an increase of $1.4 millon or roughly .29% over last year's overall budget. Not bad, given some of the increased demands and costs, though there may still be room for savings.

Frankly, I'd like to hear the rationale for maintaining the city's Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Department, much less adding a position. This should be a state function, not a city function.

I'd also suggest that we take a hard look at any and all proposals for construction of new city facilities, bearing in mind that our population has been essentially static for decades and that each new facility brings with it long term operating expenses.

The majority in the legislature can't seem to see beyond their ideological blinders to the truth of what these cuts will do to our state's three major cities.

A March 16 StarTribune editorial reads, "The proposed 2011 cut alone exceeds the combined budgets of St. Paul's parks, library and city attorney's office."

Of the $62.5 million scheduled for payment to St. Paul this year, only 37.8 million will be paid. By 2015, the city will get zero back from the state under the plan enacted a few decades ago to spread the burden of being home to huge acres of state- and county-owned properties not subject to real estate tax. Plus the five excellent private universities in St. Paul, the public schools and colleges, and other religious or public service organizations and hospitals who are not subject to the tax.

Both mayors and, I'm sure, the mayor of Duluth have been miracle workers through the years of annual Pawlenty cuts. But even they may not be able to maintain our beautiful cities after the current crop of right-wingers in the legislature get their way on this.