MN: St. Paul Council OKs Transfers to Pay for Over-Budget Bike Boulevards

Aug. 14--After a protracted discussion, the St. Paul City Council voted to move funds from two city projects to complete the Jefferson Avenue and Griggs Street bicycle boulevards, which came in over budget.

The $2.4 million bikeways are funded through a state municipal aid account and federal dollars administered by Transit for Livable Communities. In addition, $91,000 will come from funds that had been set aside for the $6 million remodel of the Palace Recreation Center off West Seventh Street, which is still expected to move forward as planned.

Another $200,000 will come from a planned bike ramp connecting Lexington Parkway to Pierce Butler Route, completely eliminating funding for the ramp.

The Palace Rec and Pierce Butler projects were funded last year through an elaborate ranking process overseen by the citizen-led Capital Improvement Budget, or CIB, committee, which has objected to the changes.

The committee, which serves as an advisory body, voted 7-2 on July 14 against redirecting the funds to complete the 5.3 miles of bike boulevards. The bike projects came in $970,000 over budget when they were bid last year and $900,000 over when they were re-bid by the city this spring.

Council member Russ Stark proposed a resolution indicating that it was the council's intent to have the CIB committee replenish the funds for the Palace Rec Center and the Pierce Butler bike ramp in the future. The other council members objected to tying the committee's hands, and Stark withdrew his resolution when it became clear it would not pass.

In a separate action, the council also approved a "Community Presence and Responsibility in Banking" ordinance that requires banks that do business with the city to issue annual reports explaining their financial practices within the city borders. The ordinance requires banks to tell the city where they initiate loans, foreclosures and other major transactions and services.

Frederick Melo can be reached at 651-228-2172.

Follow him at twitter.com/FrederickMelo.

Copyright 2014 - Pioneer Press, St. Paul, Minn.

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