To the Editor:
Contact your St. Louis Park City Council and urge them today not to initiate an Economic Development Authority levy – a move that basically hides additional taxes from the residents and businesses of St. Louis Park. As a former St. Louis Park council member, here’s the explanation:
Our EDA is a group of people tasked with implementing and managing redevelopment projects that have a significant economic impact on our city. In St. Louis Park, City Council members are the same people who make up the EDA – this isn’t unusual. When functioning as the EDA, they oversee city property sales, redevelopment contracts with developers, etc. As a city council, they handle all other policy matters, some of which may affect the EDA.
Recently, the SLP City Council/EDA has planned to add an incremental tax levy. This levy would be separate from the general property tax. It’s legal to do so. However, the only reason to initiate this separate levy is to hide the overall tax and spending from taxpayers. In general, the benchmark that’s recorded and reported by the media consistently is the general property tax levy. This is the number that’s used for comparison with other cities and previous years. The added tax levy would be separate from this and then not comparable. Yet the same people, residents and businesses, would be paying for both.
SLP has used this practice before, and I was a part of it. Many years before my term, the St. Louis Park City Council passed the Housing and Redevelopment Authority levy. When I served on St. Louis Park City Council, I voted with the majority to continue the HRA levy. Like the proposed EDA levy, this HRA levy is a separate tax few people know about.
I absolutely agree with the need for the extra funds that this proposed levy intends: funding climate change solutions in St. Louis Park. That’s been a stated goal for years. Finally, SLP is committing taxpayers’ money to this worthwhile effort. But there’s no reason to separate it from the general levy other than to hide it from the people of St. Louis Park.
St. Louis Park
Thom Miller served a four-year term as an at-large St. Louis Park City Council member after winning an election in 2015.