Posted: 03/23/08 00:17
by Paul Bartlett
Take your choice, Norm Coleman is either utterly incompetent or an expedient, self-serving hypocrite. Either way, his accusations made during a January 2008 MPR Midday interview must be examined. But let me say upfront, in Norm's defense, that he may not have grasped the profound ignorance of his words. You see, Norm never shuts up. There is no such thing as a true Norm interview or Norm follow-up question, only his tedious windbag schtick where he talks and talks and talks.
After enduring an hour of Norm's monologue (January 11, 2008), I could only shake my head in disgust and disbelief. Norm Coleman -- former Saint Paul mayor -- lashed out at the City of Saint Paul leadership for the recent increase in his real estate taxes.
He claims a recent tax jump of forty to forty five percent. The not so subtle suggestion, of course, is that the current Saint Paul leadership has tightened the financial screws holding down Norm's checkbook. Coleman exposed the depth of his partisanship and willingness to twist truth for personal and political gain.
Norm Coleman has received an enormous Limited Market Value (LMV) discount over the years. For those of you not familiar with LMV, it's a tax shift, where the owners of low value growth homes subsidize the owners of high value growth homes. It's Robin Hood turned upside down and plopped onto his head It's the kind of big fat subsidy that Republicans like Norm Coleman rail about. News flash: Norm's been on the dole.
Coleman's tax has increased largely due to the phase-out of LMV. Simply put, Coleman will now pay his fair share of Saint Paul taxes -- just like the rest of us. Coleman's suggestion that the City of Saint Paul is behind the increase in his taxable value or real estate tax is just plain wrong. It's disingenuous horse poop.
Coleman either doesn't understand Minnesota real estate tax law -a sorry commentary for the ex-mayor of a major Minnesota city (and attorney) -- or he chooses to ignore it.
To borrow an expression from Dick Cheney, Minnesota is "in the final throes" of the Limited Market Value phase-out. What that means is that subsidy recipients like Coleman are seeing their taxable value catch up to their market value. Before I give you the numbers, I need to explain the insidious nature of LMV. While we've all heard stories about how LMV has held down the real estate tax on some sweet old lady's home, it's some other sweet old lady who has ponied-up the subsidy. LMV simply redistributes the same levy. The effect: overall tax rates rise.
Think of it like pushing down on a waterbed. What's displaced under your fist just moves somewhere else. It's a zero-sum game. Let's look at Norm's numbers and you'll get the point. Norm owns a home at 909 Osceola Avenue, Saint Paul. His tax parcel number is: 02.28.23.34.0036. This is public record -- available on the Ramsey
County website. I want you to check this. I don't want you to believe a word I'm saying based on faith.
For the past several years, LMV has been incrementally reduced,
bringing "Taxable Market Value" closer and closer to "Estimated Market Value." It is this tightening of the spread that has caused Coleman's real estate tax to jump. I'm not saying that the City of Saint Paul hasn't increased their levy -- just like other Minnesota cities -- but I am saying that the decrease in his LMV subsidy is behind Coleman's larger than average tax increase. You could fairly ask, "What's the difference, it still went up?" There's a huge difference. LMV -- its creation and phase-out -- is state law, not local ordinance. Period. State statute defines the phase-out increments -- not the City of Saint Paul. Coleman wagged his self-righteous finger at the City when he either knew or should have known that LMV is a state creature. And he further knows that Ramsey County -- not the City of Saint Paul -- determines assessments. It makes you wonder, did he learn anything as
mayor of our capitol city?
Norm's Numbers (Parcel #: 02.28.23.34.0036):
Assess Yr Est Mkt Value Taxable Mkt Value LMV Discount
As the data indicates, the Limited Market Value discount on Coleman's home declined significantly between 2004 and the present. That decline increased his actual taxable value, and that increase is what precipitated his larger than average tax increase. Contrary to his MPR interview, not only is the City of Saint Paul not responsible for his larger than average tax increase, they could not have prevented it even if city officials were so inclined. Again, state law governs the phase-out formula and Ramsey County sets the values.
Like all Republicans, Coleman likes to hop onto his sanctimonious
soapbox and lecture us dopes about responsibility. So let's add up the numbers. LMV has been on the books for many many years and my snapshot only covers a few of them. But just in that brief period from 2003 to 2006, the taxable value of Coleman's home was discounted by $256,900. At an average residential homestead tax rate of 1.00 percent, Norm Coleman received a tax subsidy of $2569.00 from other far less fortunate Saint Paul homeowners. That's money (someone else's money) in Norm's pocket. Like I said, it's all a zero sum game; what Coleman did not pay, some sweet old lady did.
So I ask you, is Norm Coleman utterly incompetent or an expedient, self-serving hypocrite? In his most recent TV ad, we're asked to call Norm and thank him for his stellar job performance. The call is a good idea, but instead, ask him why he does not want to pay his fair share of Saint Paul's real estate taxes.