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Airport back on the tax rolls

Published (2/13/2009)
By Sonja Hegman
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Reattaching the St. Paul airport to the city and school district tax bases could give the state more money to balance its budget.

Held over Feb. 11 by the House Property and Local Sales Tax Division for possible omnibus bill inclusion, HF393, sponsored by Rep. Sheldon Johnson (DFL-St. Paul), would require that taxable property at the St. Paul intermediate airport, known as Holman Field, be considered part of the city and school district tax base for taxes payable after 2010. This property was “detached” from the two tax bases in 1996.

Properties at Holman Field now pay only for county and special taxing district property taxes, which is also the case for the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. The difference is the international airport does not pay school or city property tax because it is federal property.

The state aid reduction for the city would be about $60,000 for each fiscal year. The proposal would increase homestead property taxes, resulting in a small increase in property tax refunds paid by the state.

Wendy Underwood, St. Paul’s chief lobbyist, said the city currently doesn’t have a position on the bill. In lieu of taxes, the city receives a $72,000 cash payment each year for fire and police coverage at Holman Field, she said. Property tax estimates for the airport would be just under $100,000 to the city for 2009, but because levy limits have already been set, a change would affect the city’s current projected budget.

“Unless we have a clear position from the city, it’s hard for me to get in the middle of this when it should be a local issue,” said Rep. Morrie Lanning (R-Moorhead).

A companion, SF167, sponsored by Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul), awaits action by the Senate Taxes Committee.

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