Mayor Rybak’s 2013 Budget Invests in Roads, Safety and Reform
1.7 percent property-tax increase is half of what it would have been without stadium deal; at least 70 percent of homeowners to feel no increase, or even a decrease
August 15, 2012 (MINNEAPOLIS) — Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak today released his recommended 2013 budget for the City of Minneapolis, with significant investments in infrastructure, public safety and reform, as well as in housing and economic development.
Mayor Rybak’s budget delivers these investments with a 1.7 percent property-tax increase. This below-inflation increase is half of what it would have been if the Mayor and City Council majority had not secured and passed the Vikings stadium deal, which gave Minneapolis full control for the first time of a set of hospitality taxes that help reduce the property-tax burden of Target Center. Mayor Rybak thanked the City Council majority that passed the stadium deal, which will reduce pressure on property taxes for years to come.
Moreover, because the proposed tax increase is modest and because commercial properties will shoulder more over the overall property-tax burden in 2013, at least 70 percent of Minneapolis homeowners should feel no increase — or will even feel a decrease — in the City portion of their property taxes next year.
Investing in infrastructure
Minneapolis is in year one of a five-year, ramped-up investment in infrastructure that Mayor Rybak announced in last year’s budget address. This level of investment follows the end of the five-year Infrastructure Acceleration Program that has improved an additional 104 miles of streets.
As a result of this heightened investment, the City’s level of infrastructure improvements in 2013 will be three times higher than previously planned. This level of investment is only possible because the City paid off other debt and restored its AAA bond rating.
Investing in safety
Mayor Rybak announced that he is adding $2.5 million to the Police Department budget to convert existing community service officers to sworn officers, hire new non-sworn community service officers and begin a new recruit class in early 2013. The goal is to have 10 more officers on the force by next summer.
Mayor Rybak announced that he is adding $1.1 million to hire firefighters so that the Fire Department can prepare for expected retirements. He also announced that the Fire Department will start a recruit class in 2012. This level of investment comes on top of a recently-received federal SAFER grant of $1.07 million.
Mayor Rybak announced several reforms that will save money and deliver better service. Among them:
- The Mayor proposed reorganizing the Department of Regulatory Services by moving business and development-review functions to the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED), moving environmental services to the Department of Health and Family Support, and concentrating the remaining functions in a new Department of Inspections. The Mayor said he believes these reforms will deliver better service and send the message to business that “Minneapolis government is here to grow your business, not slow your business.”
- The City is working with Public Works employees and their unions to create new job classifications that will make the workforce more versatile, much as Public Works management and employees did two years ago to save money in snowplowing while delivering the same level of service.
Tackling tough financial issues
Mayor Rybak set the stage for the investments that he proposes to make in 2013 by hailing the City’s hard work over the past decade in reducing or eliminating heavy financial burdens that the City once faced.
- Paying down debt. The City has paid down or avoided $241 million in debt since 2002 and restored its AAA credit rating.
- Reforming pensions. After years of effort, the City succeeded in merging into the State’s PERA retirement system several closed-pension funds whose taxpayer-funded obligations were exploding. In 2012 alone, this reform saved taxpayers $20 million. Minneapolis will also retire all its pension debt in 2012.
- Holding the line on wages. The City partnered with employees to hold the line on wages at several points during the last decade, which has saved jobs and help hold down property-tax increases. Mayor Rybak thanked City employees for their partnership.
Had the City not tackled these tough financial issues, Minneapolis taxpayers would be paying 35 percent more in property taxes in 2012 than they currently are.
Published Aug. 15, 2012