Minneapolis Requiring Owners of Destroyed Businesses to Pay Taxes Before They’re Allowed to Remove Burned Remains

The Democratic city of Minneapolis is requiring business owners whose businesses were burned down in the George Floyd riots to pay their 2020 taxes before they’re allowed to receive permits to remove the burnt wreckage.

In late may, riots erupted in Minneapolis after a police officer killed George Floyd, a black man. The liberal run city did little to break up the riots as criminals stole from and burned down businesses. Now the city is actually punishing these same business owners instead of helping them.

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Check out what the Star Tribune reported:

In Minneapolis, on a desolate lot where Don Blyly’s bookstore stood before being destroyed in the May riots, two men finish their cigarettes and then walk through a dangerous landscape filled with slippery debris and sharp objects. The city won’t let Blyly haul away his wreckage without a permit, and he can’t get a contractor to tell him how much it will cost to rebuild the store until that happens.

In St. Paul, where Jim Stage’s pharmacy burned down during the same disturbances, crews have already removed the bricks and scorched timbers. A steel fence keeps out trespassers. Stage expects construction of his new Lloyd’s Pharmacy to begin later this month.

The main reason for the different recoveries is simple: Minneapolis requires owners to prepay the second half of their 2020 property taxes in order to obtain a demolition permit. St. Paul does not.

“Minneapolis has not been particularly friendly toward business for some time,” said Blyly, who was forced to pay $8,847 in taxes and still hasn’t received his permit. “They say they want to be helpful, but they certainly have not been.”

City officials aren’t helping at all and instead are claiming their hands are tied.

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“We don’t feel like we have an ability to block these permits, and I don’t see why we would,” said manager at Hennepin County’s property tax office, Derrick Hodge. “One of our missions in the county is to reduce disparities, and if we took action to block these permits, that would arguably be creating more disparities instead of reducing disparities.”

The Star Tribune continues:

Local business owners are appalled by the finger-pointing, noting that nearly 100 properties in Minneapolis were destroyed or severely damaged in the riots following the death of George Floyd. The vast majority of those properties are either still standing or have been turned into ugly and often dangerous piles of rubble. Owners say the lack of progress is discouraging reinvestment and sending customers to other parts of the metro.

Cleaning up that mess is expensive. Most property owners must pay $35,000 to $100,000 to clear their sites of debris, with larger tracts — such as strip shopping centers — costing as much as $400,000, according to property owners. That doesn’t include the money those owners must pay to get their permits. On average, the owners of properties destroyed or significantly damaged owe $25,000 in taxes for the second half of 2020, which come due in October, according to a Star Tribune review of county property records.

“When it first hit my desk, I was flabbergasted that this was a requirement,” said developer David Wellington, whose family owns several properties that were destroyed in the riots. “We need to make noise for people who really need the help and, frankly, it isn’t us.”

In Wellington’s case, the family paid $188,944 in property taxes to get a demolition permit for their Hi-Lake Shopping Center, which was hit by three or four fires that gutted the property. Wellington said his company has deep pockets, so that wasn’t a major hardship. But he said many property owners lost their only source of income to the riots and the pandemic, leaving them unable to comply with the city’s rules.

“People are suffering pretty dramatically, so this is a considerable ask,” Wellington said.

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