A Study of Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) and Neighborhood Sales Tax Revitalization (STAR) Programs across St. Paul, MN Council Districts
This report analyzes 10 years of Capital Improvement Budget data. It finds that spending is unequal across the City, with some indications that it is also inequitable. In particular, the analysis shows east side planning districts experiencing pronounced disadvantages. Through interviews with individuals involved in the CIB process, the report also finds that the allocation process does not explicitly take into account geographic balance or racial equity. The report concludes with recommendations for further analysis of spending and specific changes to the CIB committee process that can help improve the equality, if not the equity of spending across St. Paul districts.
Analyzing CIB Spending: An explanation the differences between the City of St. Paul's analysis and the CURA analysis
The City of St. Paul and CURA have both conducted analyses of how Capital Improvement Budget funds are allocated across the City. The City of St Paul provides a map on their Open Budget site here. The Open Budget map shows funding by St. Paul Planning District for the years 2004 through 2017. One can change the year shown through a dropdown menu above the map.
There are five major differences between the CURA analysis and the City of St. Paul analysis.
1. The City's analysis does not calculate per capita spending. It provides a lump sum of CIB spending per district. By comparison, the CURA analysis accounts for the substantial variation in population across districts by calculating per capita spending of CIB dollars across districts. It is precisely this per capita calculation that forms the backbone of the report's claim that recent CIB spending has been unequal, and especially unfavorable to the four districts that make up St. Paul's east side.
2. The City's analysis does not aggregate spending over the 10-year period. Again, the backbone of the CURA analysis is an evaluation of per-capita CIB spending over 10 years of CIB (2006 to 2015). Where the City's study shows each year individually, the CURA study adds funding from all ten years and then calculates per-capita allocation.
3. The City's analysis notes that "projects that are part of more than one region [are] recounted for each region," meaning "the total allocation represented on this map may exceed the actual budget." This is a major difference, because the CURA analysis splits any multi-district projects evenly across those districts. To illustrate the difference in approaches: If a $3 million dollar project was awarded to districts 4, 5, and 6, the City's analysis would award the $3 million dollars three separate times, once to each district. By contrast, the CURA analysis would split up the $3 million evenly across the three districts, meaning the three districts would be credited with receiving $1 million each. We feel this is a more fair and accurate calculation procedure because it does not artificially inflate the amount of money that is being invested in the city.
4. The ways in which each analysis deals with projects designated by the City of St. Paul as citywide projects are very different. The CURA analysis excludes all projects designated as citywide. In comparison, the City of St. Paul analysis includes some citywide projects, but not all. According to Office of Financial Services, the city’s analysis calculated some citywide funds when there was additional data on the location of the project. This means that the dollar amounts of some projects designated by the City itself as "citywide" have been designated to specific districts.
5. The City's timeframe is wider than the CURA analysis. Where the City calculates spending from 2004 to 2017, the CURA analysis calculates it from 2006 to 2015. This difference is due to initial availability of data when the initial CURA analysis commenced.
The quantitative analysis of ten years of CIB spending forms only half of the CURA report. While the quantitative analysis is integral to the report, and indeed the primary reason for its writing, the qualitative analysis finds the CIB process has a programmatic structure that does not take into account issues of geographic balance, racial equity, or other considerations. We feel that this aspect of the analysis is also important for informing the recommendations of the report, some of which have in fact been adopted by the City itself in its decision to revamp the CIB program.