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Published on March 01, 2024
Saint Paul City Council Approves $45.1 Million for Street and Park Improvements Funded by Sales Tax IncreaseSource: Google Street View

The Saint Paul City Council has given the green light to a hefty $45.1 million funding package for substantial improvements across the city's streets, parks, and recreation centers, all bankrolled by a new 1% sales tax approved by local voters. In a sweeping win for community infrastructure, the funds are poised to rejuvenate the city’s aging roads and recreational facilities, according to a statement on the official city website.

"We're ready to improve the safety and sustainability of our roads, and invest in the nationally acclaimed Parks amenities that our residents enjoy every day," boasted Mayor Carter, in words that reflect both a sense of accomplishment and anticipation for the city's future. The funding initiative has drawn support from a spectrum of key players, including council members, legislators, and, crucially, the voters who agreed to shoulder the one-percent sales tax hike. The tax is projected to rake in nearly $1 billion over the next two decades, a windfall earmarked for public works that, as promised, is now being put into action.

Ward 4 Council President Mitra Jalai, underscored the fiscal responsibility and accountability to voters that the council embodied with this move. “This funding was made possible by our Saint Paul state legislators, former and new City Councilmembers, and leadership and vision of our Mayor,” Council President Jalai explained, emphasizing that this measure is but the first in a monumental and multi-generational slew of investments.

Each ward in Saint Paul has been promised a slice of the pie, with diverse projects that aim to upgrade the quality of life for residents. Ward 1’s Anika Bowie illuminated the specific improvements slated for her constituents, involving the replacement of artificial turf at Oxford Community Center and the renovation of Toni Stone Stadium, among other significant road projects. "This is a crucial moment for Saint Paul, and we’re committed to making the most of this opportunity to create a safer, more vibrant city for everyone," Bowie noted. In Ward 6, the sense of progress was echoed by Councilmember Nelsie Yang, who heralded the collective effort and vision that made such sweeping changes possible.

Focusing on the East side of the city, Ward 7 Councilmember Cheniqua Johnson highlighted that the new funding will not neglect the area’s pressing needs. From field renovations to HVAC system upgrades, and vital street reconstruction, Johnson assured her constituents, "This is just the beginning!" Her commitment to keeping Eastside in the spotlight of city-wide investments was further underscored through planned partnerships with local organizations to revitalize essential facilities.

Breaking down the budget, the Parks & Recreation projects carve out millions for urgent maintenance and new developments including a seismic shift to geothermal heating for the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory. Additionally, the Department of Public Works will harness its portion of the sales tax for extensive overhauls on Grand Avenue and other key junctions within the city grid, signaling a comprehensive approach to urban renewal across Saint Paul.

Citizens of Saint Paul will see the new 1% sales tax take effect on April 1, 2024, a fiscal lever that, it is hoped, will enable the city to balance the historical promise of its streets and parks with the robust demands of its future growth and sustainability.