Council Member Andrew Johnson’s April 16 McGuire email

Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson
MinnPost file photo by Terry Gydesen
City Council Member Andrew Johnson

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.

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Comments (2)

  1. Submitted by lee wick on 04/18/2015 - 11:45 am.

    Referendum

    The Twins stadium was the same thing. I attended four of the town halls and there was a overwhelming negative stance for one. Even the politicians acknowledged the voters didn’t want it. Legislature took care of that.

    • Submitted by Eric Ferguson on 04/22/2015 - 01:03 pm.

      Not overwhelming

      I’m a Minneapolis resident and I don’t see overwhelming opposition. I wouldn’t even say there are a lot of strong opinions yet. People are still working through it and figuring out where they stand. It’s not a clear cut decision for most of us. That area is cut off from neighboring areas of the city, and this project would spur a broader redevelopment, but so might some other project, though no one else has come forward with one. MN United isn’t asking for nearly as much public money as went to other stadiums, but they’re not asking for nothing either. We’ll have three stadiums capable of hosting soccer once the new football stadium is done, though I get the appeal of a soccer-specific stadium. However, the ability to also serve as a soccer stadium was a selling point for the new football stadium.

      It does strike me as odd that since Bill McGuire is working with the Pohlads and the county board chair, they didn’t do the obvious and put the Loons in Target Field, even if only as a stop gap. The place sits empty when he Twins are gone, and they’re gone half the weekends of the baseball season, so there are plenty of dates open for soccer. True, the seats are arranged for baseball, but it’s outdoors on grass like we keep hearing soccer insists on.

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