A Game of Numbers: Taxes and the 2017 Saint Paul Mayor’s Race

Numbers

Here are six numbers I would like you to think about.

24.

6.

4.

35.

46.

0.

The first is the amount of a property tax increase that Saint Paul Mayor Chris Coleman proposed on taxpayers in St. Paul.  It is the same amount that the Saint Paul City Council approved this week.

The second is the Saint Paul School District’s proposed tax increase.

The third is the amount that Saint Paul taxpayers would have to shoulder from Ramsey County as it has proposed its own tax increase.

The fourth is the total amount of a tax increase that will be put on the backs of Saint Paul taxpayers.

The fifth is the number of days left until Saint Paul elects its new Mayor.

The final is the total number of candidates for Mayor who have offered any significant public opposition to any of the following numbers:  24.  6. 4. 34.

The only thing that prevents the number 34 from being even higher – 43% — is that the Saint Paul City Council decided not to pursue a 33% tax increase that some of its members had suggested be considered.

Saint Paul is drowning in taxes and out-of-control spending.

And, excuses from its elected officials.

In their sack cloth and ashes our City Council, Ramsey County Board and School Board all act crestfallen as they declare they have no choice but to raise taxes on Saint Paul residents.

It pains them, they say, to do such things but they have, after all, no choice.

If lacking leadership, vision and creativity is a choice then yes, they are right, they have no choice.

The Saint Paul Pioneer Press, through two different stories by Josh Verges, shows that the combined tax increases, coupled with an increase in city utility fees, on a home valued at $173,900 is about $167.00

Now, those promoting these tax increases would rather you look at the individual dollar impact of their actions.

That way it doesn’t sound so bad.

As though telling someone they have to pay $167.00 more next year for property taxes is a good thing.

Saint Paul’s Mayor and City Council even have the audacity to tell us that the 24% tax increase they are endorsing will be “revenue neutral” because the tax increases simply offset the reduction in assessments on residents.

Anytime a politician tells you something is revenue neutral I want you to remember they are the same politicians who believe in Unicorns and that there exists a Money Tree.

Combining two words together in the hopes that they mean something that is true is simply false.

But, let’s get back to the Saint Paul Mayor’s race.

One would think a 34% property tax increase on the backs of the people of Saint Paul would elicit a “WTF!”

Sadly, it’s been more like “Huh?”

I have done my best to search for any significant public opposition from any of the candidates for Mayor.

I can’t find any.

I have looked for a press release, a press conference or a press statement in which any of the leading candidates for Mayor have said, “This will not stand if I am elected Mayor.”

Admittedly, I am old and my eyesight is nowhere near what it once was so maybe I just couldn’t see it on their websites.

Nor have I seen any currently elected official in these three units of government, or those running to fill a seat on any of these three units of government, suggest that raising taxes repeatedly on the people of St. Paul might not be the only way to run a government.

In fact, perhaps instead of raising taxes 24% on Saint Paul residents the City might have first looked – seriously – at whether there were other areas of current or proposed future spending that could have been reduced without risking the life and safety of St. Paul residents.

Perhaps instead of asking City staff to spend time figuring out the impact of a 33% tax increase the City Council might have asked them what they could have reasonably done to reduce spending to avoid a 24% tax increase in St. Paul.

Here’s an idea:  Maybe one of the candidates for Saint Paul Mayor could propose that approach.

I’m old fashioned, I know.  I still believe that elections should have consequences.

In Saint Paul politics and government these days it is an antiquated notion that people’s concerns about the safety of their neighborhoods and respect for their pocketbooks should be a priority.

When elected officials fear little from the backlash of their constituents for the poor decisions they make they simply continue to make them.

When candidates for Mayor don’t think people are paying attention to these things they instead focus on shrinking the electorate, not expanding it, ahead of Election Day.

I suppose with 46 days left there could be someone running for Mayor that makes the numbers 24, 6, 4 and 34 an issue in this campaign.

But that would require a different number.

7.

The number of letters it takes to spell C.O.U.R.A.G.E.

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