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Norm’s Record as Mayor.

Norm likes to talk about his record as Mayor of Saint Paul, which makes sense for him as a politician, because why would he want to talk about his record as Bush’s buddy in the Senate?


Norm Coleman Legacy as Mayor: A Financial Mess for Saint Paul Taxpayers

After Eight Years, Coleman Left St. Paul Citizens Facing Massive Tax Increases, Swollen Debt, and a Big Budget Mess.   After eight years as mayor, during which the economy across the country was soaring at an unprecedented rate, Norm Coleman left St. Paul with a fiscal crisis.  During his term Coleman refused to raise property taxes, but increased spending, borrowed record amounts of money, and left the city with a big budget mess.  In Coleman’s final weeks in office as the city adopted its 2002 budget, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press reported:  “St. Paul is about to paint itself into a fiscal corner, as it adopts a $400 million budget Wednesday that could spend almost a quarter of the city’s rainy-day fund…And the situation may already be getting grimmer, as the city prepares to trim spending and avert a crisis a year from now.  The new administration is pondering closing recreation centers and libraries, among other things.”  [Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 12/18/01]

St. Paul May Be Facing Toughest Financial Situation in More Than 20 Years.  In Norm Coleman’s final weeks in office, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press reported that “St. Paul soon won’t have enough revenue or enough savings to keep up city spending.  In fact, St. Paul soon could find itself in the toughest financial situation in more than 20 years, facing as many as 180 job cuts – nearly as many as the 207 people the city laid off during a state fiscal crisis in 1982.”  [Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 12/18/01]

City Council Budget Office:  St. Paul Faces Tax Increases of 11.4% in 2003 Just to Cover Debt Payments.  According to City Council Budget Office calculations, Saint Paul city taxes will have to go up 11.4% in 2003 just to cover obligated debt payments and maintain present city services.  If the newly remodeled downtown library is reopened on a full-time basis and funds cut by the Legislature are made up by the city, then the tax hike will be 12.7%.  [City Council Budget Office, 2001]

New Mayor Prepares to Make Cuts in Parks, Libraries, and Other City Services Because of Mess Left by Coleman.  Upon taking office, new St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly acknowledged that St. Paul would have to make some more visible cuts in city services, including the closing of recreation centers, libraries, and parks because of the incredibly muddy fiscal picture the city faced after eight years of Norm Coleman as mayor.  “Some very tough choices will have to be made,” Kelly said.  [Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 12/18/01; Minneapolis Star Tribune, 12/10/01]

City Council Member:  St. Paul Faces Draconian Budget Cuts or Tax Increases.  In December 2001, city officials raised their concern about grim budget projections for 2003 that could mean an $8 million to $14.2 million shortfall, according to a City Council analysis.  “The city is looking at draconian budget cuts or insufferable tax increases,” Council Member Chris Coleman said. [Minneapolis Star Tribune, 12/20/01]

Coleman Was Forced to Dip Into Reserve Fund In Order to Avoid Raising Taxes in Final Budget.  Norm Coleman’s final budget ignored the fiscal realities facing the city of St. Paul and increased spending by 8.2%, but cut into the city’s reserve fund and cut some city services in order to pay for the increased spending in other areas.  Coleman proposed using nearly a quarter of the city’s reserve fund – $7.2 million of the $40 million reserve fund – to avoid raising taxes.  The City Council eventually adopted a budget that used $10 million of the reserve fund.  Coleman also proposed cuts in hours at some libraries and elimination of seven outdoor ice skating rinks.  And Coleman proposed increasing fees, or hidden taxes, on paramedic health care services.  Coleman’s aide Peter Hames dubbed the budget “status quo,” showing that the Coleman administration completely ignored the fiscal crisis the city was facing.   [Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 8/15/01, 12/20/01; Minneapolis Star Tribune, 8/15/01]

Politics in Minnesota:  The Next Mayor of St. Paul Is in Deep Doo Doo.  In October 2001, Politics in Minnesota reported:  “Norm Coleman didn’t raise St. Paul’s taxes for eight straight years.  The public take on that:  Coleman did a wonderful job controlling costs.  But there’s another possible reality we keep hearing more and more from St. Paul insiders:  Coleman starved the system.  No matter who is the next St. Paul mayor, there’s going to be hell to pay in the next couple of years.  The combination of Coleman’s penuriousness and the last session’s property tax changes – particularly the trashing of tax increment financing, the city’s favorite way to pay for development – means that, in St. Paul, services are going down and taxes are going up.  That would happen even if Coleman had decided to stay in office.” [Politics in Minnesota, 10/4/01]

Coleman Relied on State Government to Balance City’s Budget, Provide Services. In 1998, the Saint Paul Pioneer Press reported:  “Ironically, Coleman was able to keep taxes down partly because of increased state aid that many Republicans – but not the mayor – oppose.”  [Saint Paul Pioneer Press, 9/27/98]


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