Last year, on December 10, following an intense
and often passionate public hearing; and a lengthy and sometimes emotional debate
by the City Council, the 2015 budget was approved. This followed an earlier
Budget Committee meeting where the Council voted 7-6 to support amendments to
the proposed 2015 budget that reduced funding for several high priorities of
mine including the newly formed Clean Energy Partnership, homeownership
support, community engagement funding for the One Minneapolis Fund, an outside
evaluation of our community engagement system and a Civil Rights Department
Disparity study. Fortunately, at that meeting, a proposal to shift funding for
pedestrian and bicyclist safety from ongoing to one-time dollars was withdrawn
and an attempt to cut a proposed racial equity position in the City
Coordinator’s office failed on a 7-6 vote.
Subsequently, on the 10th,
funding for the Clean Energy
Partnership and the One Minneapolis Fund was restored by shifting some funds
from other sources, and cutting from two staff positions focused on improving
communication with non-English speakers. This was passed after the seven-member
majority rejected an alternative compromise I moved that would have instead
used funding slated for a $500,000 Convention Center enhancement for Meet
Minneapolis’ tourism marketing efforts. In the end these cuts reduced the
property tax levy by approximately $790,000. The final approved levy amount is
$222, 814,000, of which $153,929,000 is for the general operating fund for city
The cuts came from the following:
- $150,000 deducted from the 300,000 needed for
the Civil Rights Disparity Study effectively delaying or derailing this
important study needed to justify and target efforts to close gender, racial
and other disparities in employment.
- $100,000 from what I considered an unwise and
unnecessary $500,000 enhancement to the Convention Center budget to go to Meet
Minneapolis for tourism promotional and marketing activities.
- $75,000 taken from a Homeownership and
Foreclosure prevention counseling and outreach program aimed and helping middle
and low income people keep their homes and become first time homeowners.
- $120,000 from the Health Insurance expenses
unneeded because of unanticipated reduction in costs.
- $80,000 for a new neighborhood specialist staff
person to support neighborhood organizations
- $174,000 from money intended to fund 2
additional Communications department staff to boost collaboration with the
Neighborhood and Community Relations Department and non-English media outlets
to ensure that City news and information reach diverse communities across the
While happy to have preserved and recovered funding for some
of my priority items and generally supportive of much of the budget, I
ultimately voted against it. I did this
because I believe the modest levy increase approved by the Board of Estimate
and recommended by the Mayor was financially wise and I remain concerned about
some of spending priorities that put support for some of the wealthiest sectors
of the city ahead of efforts to improve the lives of and those whose needs may
be the greatest. Additionally, I voted
no to show my opposition to the Council’s inability or unwillingness to work
harder find a consensus, and to forge a compromise that would have better
reflected not only the priorities and interests of all Council members, but
also the priorities and interests of all Minneapolis residents. You can watch a
broadcast of the almost 5 hour long December 10 meeting
under 2014 Budget
Hearings under 2014 City Council meetings online. You can find the official record of the December 10th
Here are a few notable highlights of this year’s budget that
came up during the December deliberations:
- $250,000 to fun two new positions in the Coordinator’s
office to focus on racial-equity.
- $3.5 million to fund the $50 million redesign of Nicollet
- $250,000 in planning dollars for the redevelopment of the
- $790,000 for a network of protected bike lanes, plus funding
for snow management of these.
- $150,000 to fund staff and program resources working on the
new Clean Energy Partnership.
- Funding to start and operate a curbside organics recycling
- $55,000 for downtown youth workers.
- An additional $70,000 in education and support for parents
and caregivers of adolescents.
- $250,000 enhancement
for the Convention Center to go to Meet Minneapolis’ marketing efforts
- $400,000 to support the Downtown Council’s new Holiday
- Funding to support 10 more police officers, for an
authorized strength of 860 sworn officers.
- $1.14 million over two years for body cameras for the Police
- Close to $1 million for community service officer training.
- $960,000 for training a police cadet class of 18.
- $800,000 for two new fire fighter classes, and one class
added to the department’s base.
- $346,000 for an additional four 911 operators.
- $250,000 for pedestrian safety improvements.
- $25,000 added for public art.
- $55,000 for the Minneapolis Highrise Representative Council
for Project Lookout.
- Increased and consolidating housing dollars to bring the
Affordable Housing Trust Fund up to $10 million.
- No funding for the Great Streets Program but an additional $100,000
to support small business development through the Business Technical Assistance
- $150,000 for the One Minneapolis Fund to support the
development of diverse leadership and civic participation.
additional budget amendment that I was able to move through with the help of
Council Member Palmisano was to allocate $70,000 for an external assessment of
our neighborhood engagement system. We are developing the scope of the study
now and hope to issue a Request for Proposals in February and have an
evaluation back in August.
can find the final approved 2015 here.
Additionally just this week the City launched a new
financial transparency online platform powered by OpenGov.com
that provides unprecedented
access to the City’s finances. The software allows people to see financial data
in a variety of interesting ways which may help people understand the City budget
better. You can get started and learn more about using the system here http://www.minneapolismn.gov/finance/transparency
. The platform can also be accessed at minneapolismn.opengov.com
I hope residents, reporters, bloggers, business owners and
staff will make use of this to explore the budget, long-term trends and details
in new ways. People can compare the 2015
budget to previous years dating to 2008 and view revenues and expenses by fund,
department and expense type on interactive graphs. The current year report
provides insight into spending and revenues year-to-date. I am also excited to
see this might be used to create custom reports and shed light on details
within the finances of the city.