Why a Sales Tax Increase?

Saint Paul is a growing Capital City home to more than 300,000 residents, global, national, and local employers of all sectors, and an array of world-class entertainment venues. And the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation amenities are the second-best in the nation, according to the Trust for Public Land.  

Comprehensive improvements to the city’s regionally significant roads and nationally acclaimed parks and recreation facilities are estimated to cost $1 billion over the next two decades. To secure funding for estimated costs, Saint Paul residents passed a one-cent increase in the local sales tax in November 2023.

The City of Saint Paul will implement the one-cent increase to the local sales tax April 1, 2024.

Common Cent Fact Sheet

Scope of Common Cent Projects

A one-cent increase in the local sales tax will generate roughly $1 billion over the next 20 years to address the safety and longevity of Saint Paul’s transportation infrastructure and parks and recreation facilities.  

$738 million is allocated for street improvements.

$246 million is allocated for parks and recreation facilities improvements.

To remain consistent with the state, the sales tax will not include food, clothing, and other essential items.

Street Improvements

From initial construction to full reconstruction, roads have a lifecycle of about 60 years. Currently, Saint Paul streets are on a 124-year reconstruction cycle, more than double the average age of a functional road. According to a 2019 Pavement Condition Index (PCI) report conducted by Saint Paul Department of Public Works, the city-owned arterial and collector network has a current condition rating of 49 (“fair to poor”). At the current funding levels, the PCI condition of city-owned arterial and collector streets is expected to drop from 49 to 29 (“very poor” condition) within the next two decades.

The revenue collected will fund road improvement and reconstruction projects throughout the city, including 24 arterial and collector roads—including some bridges—over 44 miles in each of the seven wards. The arterial and collector street system’s pavement condition will increase to an average of 70 (“satisfactory” condition), which is an industry standard.

Map of Street Improvement Projects

A graphic of a lifecycle of a road

Parks and Recreation Improvements 

The Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department has over $600 million in assets and a current deferred maintenance backlog of more than $100 million, including $60 million in critical or urgent status and $40 million set to reach critical or urgent status within the next five years.

The revenue collected will revitalize aging parks infrastructure with a focus on the worst-condition parks, community centers, trails, connections, and athletic facilities. Revenue will also fund:

  • Multipurpose community center on the city's East Side
  • Multi-sport/multi-use athletic complex
  • River-focused environmental learning space and National Park Service headquarters at Crosby Farm Regional Park
  • 1.5-mile River Balcony promenade along the downtown bluff

Timeline of "Common Cent" Projects

Improvement projects funded through the sales tax revenue will begin in 2024.  

Street Improvements: Grand Avenue Reconstruction (beginning 2024)

Reconstruction of Grand Avenue, from Fairview Avenue to Snelling Avenue, will take place in 2024 and 2025. This project will be completed in two phases to maintain access to businesses and properties.

In 2024, Phase 1 will reconstruct Grand Avenue from Fairview Avenue (including the intersection) to Cambridge Street. In 2025, Phase 2 will reconstruct Grand Avenue from Cambridge Street to Snelling Avenue, including the Snelling Avenue intersection in coordination with the Minnesota Department of Transportation. The project includes replacement of the pavement, sidewalks, and underground utilities along the corridor.  

This is the first full reconstruction of this section of Grand Avenue in many decades and presents an opportunity to refresh the historic street to better accommodate all modes of travel to and along the corridor.

Street Improvements: Arterial Roads (beginning 2025)

  • Jackson Street from University Avenue to Pennsylvania Avenue (2025)
  • University Avenue from I 35 to Lafayette (2025)
  • Earl Street from Burns Avenue to Maryland Avenue (2026)
  • Pelham Boulevard from Franklin Avenue to Mississippi River Boulevard (2026)
  • Shepard Road from T.H. 5 (West 7th Street) to Elway Street, and Eagle Parkway to Sibley Street (anticipated 2027)

Parks and Recreation Improvements (2024)

In 2024, the Saint Paul Parks and Recreation Department plans to leverage over $24 million in sales tax funding to revitalize its assets. Projects for this year were prioritized based on data points such as facility condition (fix what is broken), identified need (system plan and previous planning documents), and efficiencies gained through coordination with other projects.

Moving forward, the Parks and Recreation Department will consider many factors when selecting projects, including utilizing its five-year plan and recently updated System Plan to assess need and guide decisions from a system-wide and equitable lens. This revenue source is a multi-year effort with significant funding, and all areas of the city will see investment over the next several years.  

2024 Parks and Recreation Projects

Last Edited: May 6, 2024