Mayor, Council President Propose Contingency Funds to Mitigate State LGA Cut
Transfer of $1.75 million will save 31 firefighter positions, keep all fire rigs and stations in operation, require no police layoffs
August 9, 2010 (MINNEAPOLIS) — In a message to the City Council, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and City Council President Barbara Johnson today proposed transferring $1.75 million from the City of Minneapolis Contingency Account to the Fire and Police Departments to mitigate the effect of the State of Minnesota’s recent cut of $23.5 million in Local Government Aid to Minneapolis’ 2011 budget.
In the short term, this transfer will save 31 firefighter jobs that would be eliminated if the City took no action and will allow the Fire Department to continue to operate without closing a rig or a station. The transfer will also help the Police Department manage its cut with no layoffs.
"We have said for years that the Legislature’s cuts to Minneapolis have negative, real-life consequences, including on public safety. Reluctantly, we must now make all the cuts that we said would result from the cuts to State aid, including reductions to the Fire and Police Departments," said Mayor Rybak and Council President Johnson. "Using Contingency funds, we can save 31 firefighter positions that we would otherwise have to eliminate, maintain the same number of rigs and stations currently in operation, and keep from laying off police officers."
LGA, the 2011 budget and the waterfall of cuts
In December 2010, the Mayor and Council approved a 2011 budget that assumed that the Legislature would keep its commitment to Minneapolis of $87.5 million in Local Government Aid in 2011. Even assuming that commitment, the 2011 budget eliminated over 80 positions across the City. In the Police and Fire Departments, however, position eliminations were mitigated with the use of one-time resources to allow for position reductions through normal attrition rather than layoffs.
At the same time, the Mayor and Council also approved a waterfall of additional cuts that we would make in 2011 if the Legislature failed to meet its commitment. The total amount of the cuts in the waterfall was $23.5 million, which represented the difference between our 2011 certified LGA — $87.5 million — and LGA that we actually received in 2010 — $64 million. (The $64 million in LGA that Minneapolis actually received in 2010 represented another cut from the 2010 certified LGA of $90 million.)
Because the Legislature failed to meet its commitment to Minneapolis and cut the Citys LGA by the full amount of the contingency plan, the Mayor and Council President called last week for the implementation of the entire waterfall of cuts, which includes cuts to the Fire Department and Police Department, along with additional reductions to other departments.
Mitigating the impact on the Fire Department
The total cut to the Fire Department in the waterfall is $1.45 million. Had the City been forced to make that cut in the beginning of this year, it would have equaled 17 firefighter positions; however, in order to achieve this level of savings when implemented today, it equals 44 firefighter positions.
Because Mayor Rybak and Council President Johnson believe that a cut of that magnitude is too deep, they proposed a $1.1 million transfer from the Contingency Account to Fire, which will allow the City to retain 31 firefighter positions. This transfer will still eliminate 13 firefighter positions, which includes 10 layoffs.
This transfer will also allow the department to continue to operate without closing a rig or a station.
Mitigating the impact on the Police Department
The total cut to the Police Department in the waterfall is $1.35 million. The transfer of $650,000 from the Contingency Account to Police that the Mayor and Council President asked Council Members to approve will allow the department to absorb the cut while eliminating nine additional full-time positions, none of which will be accomplished by layoffs.
Additional impact on Fire: lack of attrition
In addition to the proposed transfer from the Contingency Account, Fire Department position eliminations could be further mitigated by additional firefighter retirements; however, in recent years, attrition in the Fire Department has been less than half of historical levels. If the level of attrition returns to normal, the department will be able to rehire laid-off firefighters more rapidly.
Attrition in the Police Department, on the other hand, is exceeding typical years, which is why their cut will require no layoffs.
Published Aug. 9, 2011