Mayor Rybak Hails Adoption of 2010 City Budget
Leaner Minneapolis City budget shrinks by $100 Million, stays focused on economic growth and public safety
December 7, 2009 (MINNEAPOLIS) -- Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak tonight praised the City Council for passing a 2010 City budget that maintains the City’s commitment to economic recovery and public safety, while cutting $100 million in spending and providing property-tax relief.
"These are no ordinary times and this is no ordinary budget," Mayor Rybak said. "In tough times our city has invested in jobs, safety and public infrastructure. We are showing that smart investments, tied to fiscal restraint, can continue to make Minneapolis a city of opportunity."
"At a time of state budget chaos, the City of Minneapolis is once again showing how to budget wisely with a balanced approach of budget cuts, government reform and focused investments in business growth and job creation," Rybak added. "Let the record show that while spending by the City of Minneapolis has increased only 1% since 2003, spending by the State of Minnesota has increased 12% in the same period. Once again, we call on the state to follow our lead in reining in spending responsibly."
"The irony is not lost on us that on a day when some people rally to support a constitutional gimmick that will do nothing to control state spending — and that the governor himself has never abided by — this City is delivering a budget that actually cuts spending. The governor ought to send every councilmember here a thank-you note."
City’s pension legal battle brings tax relief for residents
Mayor Rybak in particular praised the Council for following through on his recommendation to apply $10 million to property-tax relief that the City recently won in a November 20 court decision in a pension lawsuit. The City’s victory in that lawsuit will help reduce the average tax increase for a Minneapolis homeowner from 6.6% to 2.1%.
Helping businesses grow, helping people find work
Mayor Rybak was also pleased that the Council left intact his proposal to increase funding for two key economic recovery efforts that are already showing results:
• $4.3 million to expand the Great Streets program that provides innovative and unique low-interest loans and financing tools to help small businesses develop and grow. This program helps businesses acquire and redevelop property, expand their business, or improve their storefront.
• Help for more adults to find and get quality jobs through the City’s Workforce Centers. Minneapolis is one of the few cities in the country that coordinates its own Workforce Centers, and last year, these Centers have helped 60,000 people brush up their resumes or acquire new job skills. Since 2002, the City has directly helped place 10,000 people into jobs.
Mayor Rybak stressed that the City’s Workforce Centers have played a key role in lowering Minneapolis’ unemployment rate below that of the rest of the metro region, the state and the nation.
Protecting Public Safety and Public Infrastructure
Mayor Rybak said that strengthening the economy also means continuing to make progress on making Minneapolis safer and improving the City’s transportation infrastructure.
"Minneapolis is a safer city today than it has been in many years," Rybak said. "We fought crime head-on and are delivering results. Crime in our city is falling for the third straight year and is at the lowest level in nearly a decade. Violent crime is the lowest in eight years and the homicide rate is the lowest in 25 years. This reduction wasn’t easy and it wasn’t by accident. Thank you for working together for a budget that maintains our commitment to public safety with minimal layoffs in police, fire and emergency preparedness."
"Skimping on transportation infrastructure is also not an option," Rybak continued. "I’m very pleased that the Council followed through with continued accelerated funds for road maintenance and bridge repair. In Minneapolis we know all too well that cutting spending on infrastructure doesn’t save money — it only borrows it from the future, passing an even larger problem onto our kids."
Serious challenges remain
Mayor Rybak cautioned that in light of the State of Minnesota’s latest budget forecast and further rumored unallotments to Local Government Aid, the City Council and his administration "may be back at it" shortly. "Unfortunately, the chaos of the state budget means we’re likely to continue to be in an era of round-the-clock, round-the-year budgeting," Mayor Rybak said.
Mayor Rybak also cautioned that without health-insurance reform in Congress, the City’s health-care costs will continue to eat up a greater share of the City’s general fund in coming years. Minneapolis will spend $48 million on health care this year, compared to $220 million on wages and salaries. At current growth rates, health care and wages will be equal within 15 years.
Published Dec. 7, 2009