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Your Community News & Information Source December 2012 Volume 18 Number 12 Visit for expanded coverage! HOLIDAY EVENT GUIDE The Sights and Sounds of the Season ‘City sidewalks, busy sidewalks Dressed in holiday style In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.’ ‘Silver Bells’ Mary Diedrick Hansen Staff Writer O Photo by Justin Wohlrabe A Christmas Eve skate is offered at WinterSkate rink, near the Landmark Center. S tanding on the corner of Sixth and St. Peter in downtown St. Paul in late December, it is impossible not to be enchanted by the charm of the city and to get caught up in the spirit of the holiday season. One can see the festive Christmas tree at Travelers Plaza and the soft glow filtering out from the restaurants along brick-studded St. Peter Street, where patrons are talking, laughing and sharing stories. To the west are the castle-like Landmark Center and the magical Rice Park. Both provide a festive backdrop for the people at WinterSkate Park, who are dressed St. Paul slashes $1 million from last year’s budget warmly as they glide around and around on thin metal blades. From shopping and dining, to theater and other cultural events, there are many ways to enjoy the holidays in St. Paul. Our annual holiday event guide offers some timeless classics. Holiday Events / Page 6 ver the past several weeks city finance leaders have been crunching numbers for St. Paul’s proposed approximate $500 million 2013 budget, which is down $1 million from last year. Nearly half of the budget ($237 million) is directed toward the General Fund, which covers expenses related to the police and fire departments, parks and recreation, library and general government operations (i.e. mayor and city council, human resources, finance and other support services). Within the General Fund, wages and benefits account for 81 percent of all spending. Major revenue sources for the General Fund are property tax levies (33.7 percent), Local Government Aid (LGA) from the state of Minnesota (22.7 percent), franchise fees (11.4 percent), and other revenue aids and user fees (32.2 percent). City spending pressures and the availability of other funds, like state aid and local fees, often dictate the size of the property tax levy in any given year. Historically, St. Paul has been home to many tax-exempt educational, medical and state government institutions. Nearly a third of the city’s property has been exempted entirely from paying city property taxes. As a result, more than half of the city’s total local property tax levy falls on residential property. The 2013 proposed city property tax is $101.2 million, a 1.9 percent increase from 2012. Of the proposed levy, $99.4 million will fund city activities, $72.1 million will go to the city’s General Fund, $10 million for debt service, and $17.3 million will fund the St. Paul Library Agency. The city also levies taxes on behalf of the St. Paul Port Authority, whose proposed 2013 levy Proposed city budget / Page 4 A SAINTLY CITY Lowertown churches buck national trend of declining membership Bill Knight Contributor P astors at two historic Lowertown churches said their congregations are happily out-of-step with some of the results of a new nationwide survey showing an increase in the number of people who do not attend a church. The Rev. Bill Englund from First Baptist and the Rev. Dave Colby from Central Presbyterian say their congregations are growing. This is in contrast to a recent Pew Research Center study that says one in five adults — 20 per- cent of the U.S. population — have no religious affiliation. That percentage is five points higher than just four years ago. The number is even higher — 33 percent — for adults under age 30. The study uses “religiously unaffiliated” to describe Americans who say they are atheists, agnostics or have no particular religion (view the report at aspx). Despite several calls to two Lowertown Catholic churches, no one from those churches was available to comment for this article. Englund said the report the people who are unaffilispeaks loudest to him in ated, 21 percent of them say talking about unaffiliated they pray every day.” adults who think of themColby said he is not surselves as religious or spiri- prised to see a rise in the tual. numbers of the unaffiliated. “Two thirds (of the un“For years we have seen affiliated) say they believe people say they are spiritual in God,” he said. “And it’s Church membership / pretty astounding that of Page 2

DTN Dec 2012

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