Local church losses appeal over St. Paul’s assessments
Cities cost a lot of money to run. Governmental agencies will take many creative approaches in order to raise the funds they think they need. In some cases, cities will use taxes to raise money. In others, special fees and assessments will be ordered for property owners. In some cases, these fees can become overbearing for the people who own property in the city.
Luckily, for property owners there are ways to appeal the assessments handed out by the city. At times these assessments become a kin to it illegal taking by the city. Through real estate litigation, property owners can seek relief.
Two churches in downtown St. Paul have done just that. In St. Paul, the city hands out an assessment to every property based on the number of square feet the property owner has facing a street or alleyway. For commercial property owners, the assessment is $18.81 per foot of paved road. The city raises around $26 million this way each year. However, residential property owners pay just three dollars per foot.
The downtown churches in this case claim to pay around $18,000 a year. The churches claim this fee is disproportionate to the services they receive from the city. The churches argue that this assessment amounts to a tax on the church.
The city, on the other hand, argues that these fees are necessary to pay for services needed to upkeep the streets around downtown. They claim that these fees pay for pothole repair and snow plowing. Recently, Minnesota’s Appellate Court agreed with the city and allowed the fees to continue. The church vows to appeal the ruling.
Property owners who believe they are facing illegal fees or takings from a governmental entity should understand their legal rights. Through real estate litigation, property owners may be able to challenge the actions of governmental agencies.
Pioneer Press, “2 downtown churches lose assessment dispute with St. Paul,” Frederick Melo, Aug. 31, 2015
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