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Minnesota legislature approves St. Paul's proposal for infrastructure funding

WCCO digital update: Morning of May 31, 2023
WCCO digital update: Morning of May 31, 2023 01:33

SAINT PAUL, Minn. -- Mayor Melvin Carter announced on Wednesday the Minnesota legislature's approval of millions for infrastructure funding.

The state has allocated millions of dollars to help support and improve public safety, housing, community centers, and public infrastructure in Saint Paul and surrounding regions. 

Lawmakers also authorized the city to introduce a sales tax proposal to the public on their next ballot. This new tax proposal is aimed at generating funding that can be put towards generational investments in streets and parks. 

"This historic legislative session goes to show the positive impact that the government can have on people's lives when we work together toward a shared vision," said Carter. "I am incredibly grateful to our delegation for their work to secure significant investments that enable us to address urgent needs in our community, provide opportunities for the growth and development of our city, and invest directly in the well-being of our residents." 

Here is a breakdown of the tax bill funding, and how funds will be allocated: 

Public safety

Legislature has approved a move to allocate $13.6 million to further support Saint Paul's Community-First Public Safety framework. This will be a one-time payment, and aims to provide resources and support that'll improve and build upon:

  • Neighborhood security, including community violence prevention and intervention programs
  • Community engagement
  • Mental health crisis response
  • Victim services
  • Training programs
  • First responder wellness
  • Equipment related to fire, rescue and emergency services
  • Pay for other personnel or equipment costs 

Sales tax proposal 

On the next ballot, Saint Paul is now allowed to present a one-percent sales tax proposal to voters. However, before the proposal can be put on the ballot, it must pass a final amended resolution by the City Council by Aug. 31. 

Downtown expansion

City leaders approve plans to extend the Downtown TIF district by 10 years, ending on Dec. 31, 2033. 

CIB extension and bond limit increase

The CIB extension will not be extended from 2024 to 2035. The city of Saint Paul is also allowed to issue bonds in the aggregate principal amount from $20 to $30 million each year. 

Housing and unsheltered support

Funding from the Bonding Bill will expand access to affordable housing, help support housing stability, and provide additional support for unsheltered residents. 

Here is the funding breakdown:

  • Hillcrest Site  - $11 million 
  • Listening House Shelter - $2.95 million 
  • Keystone Community Services food bank - $2.6 million 
  • Ain Dah Yung Center emergency shelter and youth lodge - $2.2 million 
  • Accessible Space Inc. accessible housing units - $1.15 million 

Community engagement revitalization 

Funding will also be dedicated to investing in community centers throughout the city. The intent behind this move is to create vibrant hubs for community engagement, education, and recreation. 

City leaders hope this investment will empower residents -- especially youth -- to participate and contribute to the overall well-being of the community. 

Here are the community centers included in Saint Paul's funding plan:

  • Mississippi River Learning Center - $8 million
  • Parks at River's Edge  - $6.22 million 
  • North End Community Center - $6 million 
  • PROCEED Community Center - $5 million
  • Walker West Music Academy - $4.1 million 
  • Playwrights' Center renovation - $4 million
  • Latino Economic Development Center renovation  - $3.548 million
  • 30K Black Arts and Tech Center - $3.5 million
  • Hmong 18 Council Inc. Hmong MN Community Center - $3 million 
  • Conway Recreation Center - $2.5 million 
  • Inclusive playground - $2.5 million   
  • Wakan Tipi Center - $2.5 million 
  • YWCA - $2.317 million 
  • Wellstone Center - $2.15 million 
  • Special Guerilla Unit Hmong Veterans Museum - $2 million
  • Irreducible Grace Foundation Black Youth Healing Arts Center  - $1.5 million 
  • Sanneh Foundation renovation - $1 million 
  • Urban Tennis - $750,000  
  • Open Arms Kitchen and Counseling Center - $500,000 

Public infrastructure 

A large part of the approved funding will go towards public infrastructure projects to improve the city's connectivity. This means that improvements to public spaces and transportation networks are coming, laying a strong foundation for a sustainable future. 

Funding for infrastructure projects:

  • Third Street Bridge - $25 million
  • Ford building demolition - $4.542 million

New developments 

The last element of this legislation aims at giving the city permission to invest in ambitious development projects that'll hopefully shape the future of Saint Paul. 

The focus of these developments are to revitalize underutilized areas, foster economic growth, and create spaces that promote commerce, culture, and community engagement. 

Here are some of the planned development projects: 

  • Metro State Cyber Security Lab - $5.196 million 
  • FilmNorth renovation - $2 million 
  • African Economic Development Solution building  - $1.5 million 
  • Saint Paul College Academic Excellence renovation design - $1.671 million 
  • ReConnect Rondo Innovation Campus - $1 million 
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