St. Paul, Minnesota

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St. Paul is the capital city and second-most populous city in U.S. state of Minnesota. The city lies mostly on the north bank of the Mississippi River, downstream of the river's confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Minneapolis, the state's largest city. Known as the "Twin Cities", these two cities form the core of Minneapolis-Saint Paul, the 16th largest metropolitan area in the United States, with about 3.5 million residents.[1] The city's population at the 2010 census was 285,068. Saint Paul serves as the county seat of Ramsey County, the smallest and most densely populated county in Minnesota.[2]

Saint Paul’s Form of Government

The City Charter provides for a municipal corporation governed by an elected chief executive, the Mayor, and an elected legislative body, the City Council. The form of government is commonly referred to as “strong Mayor-Council”. Elections are held in November of odd-numbered years, with a four-year term for the Mayor and four-year terms for Council members. Each of the seven Council members is elected from a separate ward. The seven wards are approximately equal in population.[3]

City Council

The Council is the legislative body, setting policies by enacting ordinances and resolutions. It can monitor and maintain liaisons with community groups to assure adequate citizen participation. The Council analyzes, adopts and monitors the city budget. Council members prepare and promote the City’s legislative program. They serve on boards and commissions of certain intergovernmental agencies.[3]

Councilmembers are elected to a 4 year term. The current term runs through the end of 2011.[4]

Melvin Carter III Ward 1
Dave Thune Ward 2
Pat Harris Ward 3
Russ Stark Ward 4
Lee Helgen Ward 5
Dan Bostrom Ward 6
Kathy Lantry Ward 7


The Mayor recommends appointments for department/office directors and members of boards and commissions for Council approval, and is responsible for the direction and control of departments and offices. The Mayor recommends policies and budgets to the City Council. The Mayor exercises all powers and performs all executive duties given by the city charter, city ordinances and state laws. The Mayor has the authority to veto Council actions. The Council can override the Mayor’s veto with a minimum of five votes.[3]

Mayor Christopher Coleman became the 45th mayor of Saint Paul on January 3, 2006. He was formerly a city councilmember.[5]

Shortly after taking office, Coleman signed a city ordinance banning tobacco smoking in all bars and restaurants within city limits.[6][7] The ban had long been opposed by former mayor Kelly.[8]

Coleman is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition,[9] an organization formed in 2006 and co-chaired by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston mayor Thomas Menino.

Coleman worked with Minneapolis mayor R. T. Rybak in bids to host a national party convention. St. Paul was selected as the site of the 2008 Republican National Convention.[10]

In 2009, Coleman was elected to a second term. He again received 69% of the general election vote. Eva Ng received 31%.[11]

Mayor Priorities

The Mayor has a 'Strategic Plan' of priorities he wants to implement in the City. [12] Below are highlights:

Ready for School, Ready for Life[12]

  • Expand Early Childhood Learning – Improve access to quality providers; provide parents tools to prepare their children for learning; set children on a course for success in school
  • Enhance Second Shift Initiative – Extend learning opportunities outside of the classroom and connect formal and informal opportunities throughout the community; increase graduation rates for children from different races and economic classes.
  • Open Doorways to Higher Education – Better inform and prepare high school students for post-secondary educational opportunities; increase the percentage of students taking the ACT and the number of Saint Paul residents graduating with 2- or 4-year degrees

Safe Streets, Safe Homes[12]

  • Begin with Prevention – Engage youth with quality recreational, educational, and youth organizing activities; address areas of disinvestment with revitalization; create strong community partnerships
  • Build World-Class Police Department – Create the largest police department in City’s history to serve a growing, diverse population; provide department the tools needed to confidently serve residents; target quality-of-life and domestic violence issues
  • Invest in 21st Century Fire Department – Build department to respond to changing needs of City; provide personnel with state-of-the-art equipment and facilities to respond to emergencies
  • Elevate Emergency Management – Create department to leverage resources and knowledge that will prepare City to respond to multi-faceted crises

Expanding Economic Opportunity[12]

  • Build Central Corridor – Create the East Metro’s first light rail line and leverage $1 billion in development; build the spine of a multi-modal transportation system linking the Saint Paul-Minneapolis to northern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and the economic centers of the Midwest; restore Union Depot to vital regional transportation hub
  • Bring New Development to Downtown – Build the Penfield, Saint Paul’s first major development in a decade; aggressively pursue commercial development on the site of West Publishing and county jail; extend the Minnesota Event District into Cleveland Circle; enhance amenities for downtown’s growing residential population
  • Revitalize Neighborhoods – Through Invest Saint Paul, stimulate growth by making strategic investments in neighborhoods of greatest disinvestment while coordinating and enhancing other services to these communities
  • Grow Green Economy – Leverage resources and market for sustainable, environmentally friendly products to build new manufacturing economy with living-wage jobs; improve building performance and promote green building projects

Quality Way of Life[12]

  • Promote Strategic Capital Investment – Improve, expand, and maintain our parks, libraries, and facilities that benefit the neighborhoods they serve
  • Improve Saint Paul’s Streetscape – Implement a public art policy to integrate into our public and private infrastructure
  • Lead in Sustainable, Urban Living – Focus development on a more natural, urban, and connected city through an expanded system of parks, green spaces, bikeways, and trails; create the National Great River Park; take proactive steps to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and encourage clean energy production, waste reduction, and water quality improvement
  • Grow the Soul of Saint Paul – Enhance the Minnesota Event District to attract regional and national events; make downtown a music, culture, and creative arts capital; amplify the City’s creative and ethnic voices that bring identity to Saint Paul

Administrative Officials

Appointed Officials:[3]

Department/Office Director’s Name Term Expires
City Attorney Sara Grewing Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
City Clerk Shari Moore Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
Emergency Management Rick Larkin Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
Financial Services Margaret Kelly Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
Fire and Safety Services Tim Butler 2013
Human Rights and Equal
Economic Opportunity
Luz Frias Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
Human Resources Angie Nalezny Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
Deputy Mayor Paul Williams Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
Mayor's Chief of Staff Erin Dady Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
Parks and Recreation Michael Hahm Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
Planning and Econ. Dev Cecile Bedor Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
Police Thomas Smith 2016
Public Libraries Katherine Hadley Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
Public Works Rich Lallier Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
Safety and Inspection Ricardo Cervantes Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
Technology Andrea Casselton Serves at pleasure of the Mayor
Regional Water Services Steve Schneider Serves at pleasure of the
Board of Water Commissioners



City of Saint Paul, total budget summary:[3]

Composite Plan 2009 Actual 2010 Adopted 2011 Adopted
City General Fund 212,100,909 211,065,203 213,884,931
Library General Fund (a) 16,773,021 16,076,740 16,680,085
City Special Funds 252,991,026 258,862,086 259,095,156
Library Special Funds (a) 1,129,627 1,333,996 1,540,944
Operating Subtotal: 482,994,584 487,338,025 491,201,116
City Debt Service Funds 49,522,253 60,318,045 61,216,741
Library Debt Service Funds (a) 716,800 1,165,075 1,356,075
Debt Service Subtotal: 50,239,053 61,483,120 62,572,816
Grand Total: 533,233,637 548,821,145 553,773,932
Less Transfers (100,025,421) (50,431,897) (45,780,306)
Less Subsequent Year Debt 0 (13,246,007) (16,290,958)
Adjusted Spending Plan: 433,208,216 485,143,241 491,702,668
City Capital Improvements 61,838,168 112,680,000 45,337,000
Library Capital Improvements (a) 121,765 15,000 0
Capital Improvements Subtotal: 61,959,933 112,695,000 45,337,000

Property Tax Levy and State Aid: City, Library Agency and Port Authority Combined, 2010 Adopted vs. 2011 Adopted:[3] Property Tax Levy:[3]

2010 Adopted 2011 Adopted Amount Change Pct. Change Pct. of City Total
Pct. of City Total
Saint Paul General Fund 65,811,437 65,133,601 -677,836 -1.0% 71.1% 70.4%
Saint Paul General Debt Service 9,761,438 9,815,389 53,951 0.6% 10.6% 10.6%
Saint Paul Public Library Agency 16,924,646 17,548,531 623,885 3.7% 18.3% 19.0%
Total (City and Library combined) 92,497,521 92,497,521 0 0.0% 100.0% 100.0%
Port Authority 2,111,700 2,111,700 0 0.0%
Overall Levy (City, Library & Port) 94,609,221 94,609,221 0 0.0%

This is the total property tax levy used to determine tax rates. Actual financing available to support the budget is less, due to a 2.5% "shrinkage" allowance for delinquent taxes. The State pays a portion of the tax levy through the Market Value Homestead Credit, which is included in these numbers.


A link on the Mayor's webpage[13] directs you to the '2010 City of Saint Paul State Legislative Agenda'. This document outlines what the City advocated for in the 2010 Minnesota legislative session.[14] It is unclear who actually advocates these policies -- an in-house lobbyist(s), a contracted lobbying firm, or city leaders like the Mayor and City Council. Below are highlights from the agenda:[14]

Capital Investment: Saint Paul will advocate for passage of the following projects in the 2010 state bonding bill:[14]

  • Rehabilitation, Como Zoo - $ 11M
  • Arts Partnership / Ordway - $17.5M
  • Asian Pacific Cultural Center - $5M
  • Regional Ballpark Initiative - $25M
  • University Avenue Streetscaping - $10M
  • I-94 Pedestrian Bridge Replacement - $3M

Local Government Aid: The City supports restoration of cuts to Local Government Aid from the State since 2003.[14]

Levy Limits: Saint Paul supports repealing levy limits for taxes payable in 2010 and 2011.[14]

Transportation: The City supports continued funding and advancement of the Central Corridor project, high speed rail from Chicago to Saint Paul’s Union Depot, and continued investment in East Metro transitways, including I-94, Rush Line, Red Rock and Robert Street.[14]

Education & Workforce Development: The City advocates for maintaining funding for education, ranging from early education through college readiness and workforce training.[14]

Green Energy Investment: The City of Saint Paul supports additional State resources and policies to encourage green energy investment.[14]

Housing and Mortgage Foreclosure Prevention: In 2010 Saint Paul will ask the Legislature and the Governor to take a more comprehensive approach to the Housing and Foreclosure crisis and its greater effect on cities and individual neighborhoods by advocating for an Accelerated Housing Recovery Package.[14]

Public Records

There is no information on how to request public records consistent with the Minnesota Data Practices Act, which are a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Minnesota.

Website evaluation

Elected Officials P
Administrative Officials
Permits, zoning
Lobbying N
600px-Red x.png
Public Records N
600px-Red x.png
Local Taxes N
600px-Red x.png

School district websitesGuide.png
Transparency grading process
Main article: Evaluation of Minnesota city websites

The good

  • Current and past budgets posted.[15]
  • City Council meeting videos, minutes, and agendas posted.[16]
  • City Council members are listed with individual contact information.[4]
  • A staff directory lists contacts by department with individual contact information.[17]
  • Permits/licenses posted online.[18]
  • Information on city planning/zoning posted.[19]
  • Audits posted.[20]
  • Website contains current projects up for bid[21], current contracts and when they expire[22], and other contracting information.[23]

The bad

  • Contact information for the Mayor is not posted.[24]
  • Information is given on the policies the City lobbies the State of Minnesota on during the 2010 legislative session[14], but does not disclose information about how much is spent on lobbying or if they use government sector lobbying or government sector lobbying associations
  • There is no information on how to request public records consistent with the Minnesota Data Practices Act
  • There is no information on common taxes imposed by the city and how the tax dollars are used.

External links