1) A referendum would be triggered under the City Charter unless either A) the “relief” is less than $10 million in value, or B) the State Legislature overrides the City Charter again as they did with the Vikings Stadium.
9.4. – Debt. Professional sports facility. Neither the City, nor any board, commission, committee, or department, nor any governmental body whose territorial jurisdiction is coextensive with or falls wholly within the City, may finance any professional sports facility in an amount greater than $10 million unless the voters in an otherwise scheduled election (and not an election held only for that purpose) so authorize. For this section 9.4(e)’s purposes, “finance” includes applying existing realty, infrastructure, overhead, or other resources, and forgoing taxes or any other revenue, as well as spending money directly, issuing bonds, or otherwise incurring debt.
For those that recall the Vikings Stadium legal questions, the State Legislature adopted a special law overriding this City Charter requirement, but that special law specifically was for “stadium infrastructure as a venue for professional football” [473J.01], a scope repeatedly mentioned throughout the special law and to which their overriding the Charter was solely applied to, so the law itself could not be used again for a separate facility beyond what is being built for the Vikings.
2) Even if the State Legislature was to override the City Charter, property tax breaks of this nature violate the Minnesota Constitution. Only TIF is allowed, notwithstanding the Charter requirement.
Section 1. Power of taxation; exemptions; legislative powers.
The power of taxation shall never be surrendered, suspended or contracted away. Taxes shall be uniform upon the same class of subjects and shall be levied and collected for public purposes, but public burying grounds, public school houses, public hospitals, academies, colleges, universities, all seminaries of learning, all churches, church property, houses of worship, institutions of purely public charity, and public property used exclusively for any public purpose, shall be exempt from taxation except as provided in this section. There may be exempted from taxation personal property not exceeding in value $200 for each household, individual or head of a family, and household goods and farm machinery as the legislature determines. The legislature may authorize municipal corporations to levy and collect assessments for local improvements upon property benefited thereby without regard to cash valuation. The legislature by law may define or limit the property exempt under this section other than churches, houses of worship, and property solely used for educational purposes by academies, colleges, universities and seminaries of learning.