Falcon Heights City Council preparing fee for UMN St. Paul campus

The franchise fee proposed by Falcon Heights would bring in about $130,000 each year.

Helen Sabrowsky

The Falcon Heights City Council is taking steps to impose a fee that would apply to the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus — currently a tax-exempt property.

The franchise fee would bring Falcon Heights about $130,000 each year. The city has seen an increase in the cost of law enforcement because of their new contract through Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office.

Following review by the City’s attorney, the proposed franchise fee will either undergo further discussion or go to the council for a vote and public hearing, said Sack Thongvanh, Falcon Heights city administrator.

Thongvanh said he expects the City Council will vote on the franchise fee in December or January. If approved, the fee would go into effect spring of 2018, he said.

The University first became aware of the franchise fee in early October, said Erick Garcia Luna, the University’s director of community relations.

Luna recently attended a council workshop with Xcel Energy where city officials, Xcel employees and University officials discussed the fee, he said, but the University has received little information about the city’s plans.

“We haven’t received any details from Falcon Heights,” Luna said. “We do not know how much the University will be responsible for covering.”

The council told University officials that they are working to provide specific details, Luna said.

The Minnesota State Fair — another large tax exempt entity in Falcon Heights — would also be required to pay the franchise fee, said Jerry Hammer, the fair’s general manager, in a statement. 

Like the University, the State Fair has also received little information on the proposed fee. 

“To date our neighbors in Falcon Heights government have not discussed this matter with us,” the statement said.

Luna said the University has a productive relationship with Falcon Heights and strives to work together with local government partners. 

“I don’t know why information hasn’t been provided, but we are after it,” he said. “Hopefully it will be given to us soon.