Politics

St. Paul Officials Oppose Ramsey-Vikings Plan

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An artist rendering of the proposed Vikings stadium in Arden Hills. (credit: Minnesota Vikings)

An artist rendering of the proposed Vikings stadium in Arden Hills. (credit: Minnesota Vikings)

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — The proposal to build a new Minnesota Vikings stadium in Ramsey County is running into stiff opposition from elected officials in the county’s largest city.

Minnesota Public Radio News reported Tuesday (http://bit.ly/iqmykz ) that six of seven St. Paul City Council members are against a proposed half-cent county sales tax to help fund construction of a stadium in Arden Hills. The council doesn’t have the power to stop the Ramsey County Board from raising the tax, but several council members said they may take a non-binding vote against it anyway.

“In order to support a sales tax in someone’s community, you have to demonstrate a net gain financially for that community, and that net gain isn’t there on this proposal,” council member Pat Harris said.

According to an estimate by the Minnesota Department of Revenue, 47 percent of Ramsey County’s taxable sales come from St. Paul. In addition, 52 percent of the county’s 12,000 taxable businesses are in the city.

Under the plan put forth by the Vikings and Ramsey County commissioners, the $1.1 billion stadium would be built in the suburb north of St. Paul with contributions from the team, the county and the state. Legislators did not vote on the proposal before they adjourned last week, but it could be revived in an expected special session to finish the state budget.

Some critics of the Ramsey County proposal have questioned whether the county even has the necessary sales tax base to cover its proposed share. But a consultant’s report commissioned by county officials, using projections from the Minnesota Department of Revenue, found that it does — if barely.

“The basic coverage requirement for the bonds has been met,” said the report prepared by Springsted, a national public sector advising group with an office in St. Paul.

The report said the county’s net sales tax revenues would need to exceed $28.2 million a year to be able to market construction bonds; the Department of Revenue estimated $30.1 million in proceeds in 2011, and estimated that number would tick slightly upward in each of the five ensuing years.

But the report noted the bond coverage could be affected by interest rate spikes and the county’s ability to effectively collect the new sales tax.

Ramsey County Commissioner Jim McDonough, whose district includes St. Paul neighborhoods, supports the stadium plan. He said it would be a mistake for Ramsey County to pass up the chance to add a sizable tract of land to its property tax rolls.

McDonough pointed out that suburban taxpayers help pay for city projects such as the Central Corridor Light Rail line now under construction.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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