MCN Amicus Brief on St. Paul Fees Submitted to Minnesota Supreme Court

Since 2009, the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits (MCN) has followed the statewide increase in fees or charges implemented at the city level. These fees, charges or assessments are for general city services that include street maintenance, street lights, snow removal, and boulevard tree trimming, among other things.

In 2011, two St Paul churches initiated a law suit against the City of St Paul. They contested the higher commercial rates they are charges as downtown churches compared to the lower residential rate that non-downtown churches are billed. Over the last four years, the case travelled through the courts and most recently lost at the court of appeals level. The churches asked the Minnesota Supreme Court to review the case and issue a final decision in the case.

Concerned about the spread of local property taxes disguised as local fees on property tax exempt institutions and impact on nonprofits statewide, MCN submitted an amicus brief in this case in early January 2016. MCN asserted that municipal fees, such as St Paul’s Right of Way maintenance assessment, are an erosion of the constitutional property tax exemption for institutions of purely public charities, seminaries of learning, churches, colleges, hospitals and others. The brief highlights the public benefit that nonprofits provide in community, strong partnership with government and the intent of donors to see resources invested to further mission, not pay taxes.

Click here to read the full brief.

All parties will submit final briefs to the Minnesota Supreme Court by early February and expect a decision by Summer 2016.

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