STRONG hosts city street-assessment panel discussion

Saint Paul STRONG will host an on-air panel discussion about the court decision to identify Right Of Way (ROW) street assessments as property taxes rather than special assessments. 

The decision impacts all Saint Paul property owners – including non-profits. The discussion will be aired beginning at 7 p.m. Tuesday July 12, on SPNN, Channel 19.  Panelists will focus on who benefits and who doesn’t, as well as the best ways to improve Saint Paul’s property-tax structure. The panelists are:

Robert D. Ebel, the moderator, is Affiliated Senior Research Associate with the Andrew Young School Public Policy of the Georgia State University.  Prior to his association with the Andrew Young School, he served as Executive Director of the Minnesota Tax Study (Latimer) Commission, Deputy Chief Financial Officer for the Washington, DC government, and Lead Economist for the World Bank Institute’s (WBI) Capacity Building programs on Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations and Local Public Financial Management. His list of publications includes that of co-editor of the Oxford Handbook on State and Local Government Finance (Oxford University Press) and the Encyclopedia on Taxation and Tax Policy (Urban Institute Press).

Greg Blees worked for the City of Saint Paul for 41 years between 1967 and 2006. He held various budget related positions and participated in many planning efforts to modernize City Government as authorized by the new City Charter. The 1972 Charter mandated a Strong Mayor – Strong City Council form of government.  He was City Fiscal Policy Director, and later as consultant to the City to help with changes to the City’s Right-of-Way Assessment Financing.

Peter Nelson is a Senior Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment. In that role, Peter has conducted research and developed policies to improve the administration of state local government finances. In 2016, he filed an amicus brief on behalf of the plaintiffs in First Baptist Church of St. Paul v. City of St. Paul to highlight how this case can help guarantee a fair, transparent and accountable system for raising revenue to the citizens of Minnesota. Peter received a law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School where he was a member of the Minnesota Law Review.

Ellen Brown, after an executive career in the public, private and non-profit sectors,  retired from paid work 15 or so years ago but continues to engage in various community projects and issues. A longtime member of the Citizens League, she served on its 2017 Task Force exploring payments in lieu of property taxes in Saint Paul. She is a community member of the Saint Paul City Council’s Audit Committee. Ellen has lived in Saint Paul most of her adult life. 

Simon Taghioff was a plaintiff in the recent winning appeal against Saint Paul’s Street Maintenance Service Program. He founded Fair Streets Saint Paul to advocate for a better system. He currently serves on the Saint Paul Planning Commission and chairs the Summit Hill Association’s Zoning & Land Use committee.