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No bonding bill largesse, but Legislature gives St. Paul and Minneapolis some help

Minneapolis can use taxes for streetcar plan, St. Paul gets an extended sales-tax benefit and the two will merge arena operations to stop competitive infighting.

St. Paul and Minneapolis had hoped for some love in the bonding bill —such as $14 million for expansion of the Children’s Museum and $20 million for the Nicollet Mall renovation — but that didn’t happen in the wild mix at the end of session.

Still, the two cities did get some “goodies” in the tax bill, says MPR:

  1. A proposed Minneapolis streetcar line gets a $50 million dollar boost thanks to a provision allowing the city to redirect taxes collected from properties along the line to pay for its construction. The city estimates the line will cost a total of $200 million, but the project is still in the planning phase.
  2. St. Paul gets to extend its half-cent sales tax for an extra 12 years, through 2042. The tax was scheduled to expire in 2030. St. Paul also retains its authority to issue up to $20 million in bonds every year until 2024. That authority would have lapsed at the end of this year without legislative action.
  3. The two cities get to work out a truce between the concert arenas they each own.  The Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul and the Target Center in Minneapolis currently compete to host the touring shows that come through the Twin Cities, driving down the rents they can charge. The two venues now have until 2015 to merge their governance, marketing and scheduling operations, ending that bidding war.