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The St. Paul City Council is preparing to create a seven-member citizen committee to work with city officials to focus on community reinvestment and reducing disparities in banking services. Where to apply and the process on how to join the committee have not yet been determined.
The new Responsible Banking Committee will review the addendum to the Request for Proposals process to financial institutions who provide banking services to the City of St. Paul. Council member Dai Thao, Ward 1, who is leading this effort said, “We know that racial disparities exist within our city. We must do everything that we can to close that gap and that includes working with institutions that share our same goals.”
In 2014, the city council amended its ordinance to include an addendum to the Request for Proposals process so banks interested in doing city business would provide additional information on how they intend to reduce disparities in areas of homeownership, foreclosures, small business development and consumer access to financial services. This additional addendum to the Request for Proposals will be evaluated by the seven-member committee with a recommendation going to St. Paul’s Office of Financial Services to consider in its final selection.
Todd Hurley, the Office of Financial Services director said, “Our office currently works with the city’s Human Rights Department to review the responses to the Request for Proposals. Having the committee provides another perspective to help the city achieve our racial equity goals.”
Vic Rosenthal, executive director of Jewish Community Action, one of the organizations leading the effort says, “We are excited that the city is inviting the community, for the first time, to oversee the banking Request for Proposals process. This will provide the community with more confidence that they are part of this important process.”
Ward 2 council member Rebecca Noecker, a co-sponsor of the resolution, said, “We know our city is at its best when all our residents have equal access to our financial institutions, to buy a home, launch a new business or save for college. It’s important that we take every opportunity to reinforce that message with our community banking partners, especially those with whom we entrust our public funds.”
The city council will be working with the community, the Office of Financial Services, and the Human Rights and Equal Economic Opportunity Department to develop a process that ensures that the information from financial institutions is examined on a more regular basis with respect to the goals of the city.
“Just as each of us strives to make informed financial decisions, it is appropriate for the community be involved in advising the selection of the financial institutions to become depositories and service providers for taxpayer dollars,” said Jane Prince, Ward 7 council member and a co-sponsor of the initiative.
The city council is also planning to have the committee look at all the city’s banking relationships to see if there are ways to create incentives for improving public access to homeownership, small business development and other financial services.