A PARK WATCH COMMENTARY

TWIN CITY CATERING IS ASKING THE PARK BOARD TO RENEGOTIATE ITS LEASE

At the upcoming 5/21/08 Park Board meeting, General Manager Don Siggelkow is asking the commissioners permission to renegotiate the Park Board’s lease with Twin City Catering. Twin City Catering is the sole tenant in the Park Board’s headquarters building. It rents approximately one-third of the building for its corporate operations. It also has use of the Park Board’s parking lot for its catering vehicles.

The reason that Twin City Catering wants to renegotiate its lease is because it has been told that it has to pay property taxes. For the past four years, Twin City Catering has avoided paying personal property taxes because neither the Park Board administration or Twin City Catering bothered to notify Hennepin County that a corporate for-profit business was operating in a tax exempt building.

So while all of us law abiding citizens and businesses were dropping our property tax checks in the mail twice a year, Twin City Catering was not.

And, ironically, while the Park Board administration was enabling the Park Board’s tenant to dodge its responsibility to pay taxes, the commissioners of the cash-strapped Park Board were asking the Board of Estimate and Taxation to raise taxes on the tax-paying citizens and businesses of Minneapolis. The commissioners were also raising the user fees on the non-profit organizations who use the parks for fundraising activities.

When the city assessor recently learned that Twin City Catering was being sheltered from its tax obligations, it billed Twin City Catering $65,000 for this year’s taxes.

And now the tax delinquent tenant wants to alter the lease in order to preserve its profit margins at the expense of the Park Board and the public. The question here is: Whose interest is the Park Board’s general manager representing? Is it the Park Board’s interest or is it the tenant’s interest?

We’ve read the lease and it clearly states on page one that the tenant is to pay personal property taxes. If the tenant chose not to pay the required taxes, it’s not the fault of the lease or the commissioners.

There should be no renegotiation of the lease, nor any modifications to it.