“Investing in the Future”: Mayor Rybak’s 2014 budget speech
August 15, 2013
Investing in the future
When I delivered my State of the City address in April, I asked us to make every decision today based on the impact it would have on Minneapolis in 2025.
We took that philosophy to heart in this budget. Out of the 14 annual and supplemental budgets that I have delivered as Mayor, this is the one that invests the most in the future.
The investments in this budget are focused on:
- Running the city well;
- Making Minneapolis a safe place to call home;
- Investing in our common ground; and
- Growing our city.
Specifically, in this budget, I propose that we invest in:
- Long-term steps to grow jobs over the coming decades;
- Infrastructure investments that ensure our roads and bridges are strong into the future;
- Green strategies to attack long-term climate challenges;
- And the most significant investments any of my budgets have made in developing a City workforce of tomorrow that reflects the city’s population of tomorrow.
Like that old expression “I’ll sleep when I die,” the philosophy in my office these days is, “We’ll have time for nostalgia when we get out of office. Look ahead.”
I want to spend almost all our time today talking about long-range investments for the future, but to get there, we need to take a quick look back to understand how we got here. Every step forward we make today is based on the smart, tough actions we have taken together over the past decade.
How we got here
- Watching our spending. After adjusting for inflation, the City’s budget in 2013 is 16% smaller than it was in 2002. In addition, our workforce shrank 12% from 2002 to 2013. This means we owe a great deal to a remarkable team of employees who did so much more with less.
- Paying down $350 million in debt. Public-finance experts around the country point to this as a remarkable performance, especially coming in the middle of the Great Recession and massive state aid cuts. It’s why our bonds get the highest AAA rating from Standard & Poor’s and Fitch. Moody’s may not agree, but I guess even straight-A students get an occasional A-minus.
- Reforming closed pensions. Ten years ago, we faced a ticking fiscal time bomb in the form of taxpayers’ exploding obligations to several closed pension funds. In the case of two of those closed funds, the deck was severely stacked against taxpayers and in favor of middlemen.
It took years of heavy lifting to get this monkey off taxpayers’ backs, but thanks to the efforts of this Council — especially Council President Barbara Johnson, and Council Members Elizabeth Glidden and Betsy Hodges — we succeeded: in 2011, the last of these closed pensions were finally merged with the State’s PERA system.
The merger was a winner:
- Police and fire pensioners got increases of 43% and 50%, not to mention a professionally-run system.
- And taxpayers were spared a whopping $20 million tax increase in 2012 alone, and won much-needed reliability and stability going forward.
- Restructuring city government,including:
- Merging City and County libraries.
- Merging an independent development agency and a planning department into a leaner, more effective Department of Community Planning and Economic Development.
- Working with unions to restructure service delivery, including a breakthrough redesign of our snowplowing which has fewer people delivering better service while maintaining union jobs.
- And last year we took on a sweeping restructuring of Regulatory Servicesthat eliminated a level of management while making it easier to grow a business in Minneapolis.
We made more progress last year when we added two gems into the Viking’s stadium financing package:
- The first wasfinally getting long-sought state approval to get Target Center off the property-tax rolls, for the first time since 1995 and after paying $110 million over the years. I said last year that this means that about $5 million more in this budget can go to basic services like police and fire, and to holding down property taxes. That remains true this year.
- The other gemin the stadium deal is that for the first time, it gives us control over sales and hospitality taxes collected in Minneapolis. We estimated that these taxes would grow by 2% a year, but because of our rebounding economy, today those revenues are growing at more than double the projection. This means we have $5 million more revenue this year to help grow the city.
As I said in my budget speech last year, had we not done all this work:
- Watching our spending…
- Paying down debt…
- Partnering with our employees…
- Reforming our closed pensions…
- And getting Target Center off the property-tax rolls…
… our property taxes would be 35% higher than they are.
I want to single out Council Member Don Samuels, who was with me on every single one of these very tough votes.
Good news on Local Government Aid
That all took a lot of work, but, as I told you last year, we still had one massive hurdle: a decade of severe, unpredictable cuts from the state in Local Government Aid.
For a decade, the State shifted its chronic budget imbalance onto the backs of property taxpayers. From 2003 to 2013, the state has cut LGA to Minneapolis by more than $459 million.
As a result, the share of our budget that Local Government Aid makes up has declined dramatically, while the share that property taxes make up has risen dramatically.
If we hadn’t taken these repeated hits from the State, we could have cut the property-tax increases since 2002 in half.
Now, we finally have good news to report. This year, Governor Dayton and the Legislature passed what I consider to be the first honestly-balanced State budget in more than a decade. This means that next year, the State will return to Minneapolis $10 million more than this year. That is still $35 million less than Minneapolis got in 2002, but it is a major step in the right direction.
The City of Minneapolis fought the LGA fight for years, and we played a role in making this positive change happen:
- Gene Ranieri’s legislative team, with leadership from Council Member Glidden, was at the center of these reforms at the Capitol.
- Council Member Betsy Hodges used her role as President of the Minnesota League of Cities to develop key state partnerships.
- Council President Johnson sat on a Minnesota House panel looking at the LGA formula, and I co-chaired a statewide committee of Mayors that advised the Governor and Legislature on local government aid.
- Thanks to our Governor and Legislature, and with a great assist from Revenue Commissioner Myron Frans, Minneapolis — Minnesota’s economic engine — is finally back in partnership with the state, and our taxpayers will be see the benefit.
That’s the history of our running the City well. Now for our future investments in running the City well.
Running the City well
When I first ran for office, I was overwhelmed with how many people said they couldn’t get a straight answer out of City Hall. The worst part, they said, was getting your call bounced from one person to the next. We tackled that problem head on by developing Minneapolis 311, probably the most popular service we’ve ever offered — at least until we rolled out One-Sort Recycling.
- 83% of residents agree that 311 is an important service.
- More than 80% of calls are resolved without needing to follow up.
- And 95% of residents say they are satisfied or very satisfied with our 311 agents’ professionalism. I am, too.
Minneapolis 311 — both the phone system and the smartphone app — has been successful because it has built partnerships with our residents. Tell us what we need to know — a streetlight is out, there’s a pothole on my street, there’s graffiti on my garage — and we will get the right person to get it fixed. Helpful 311 agents are on call Monday through Friday. But trees don’t just conveniently fall on your street during working hours; vandals rarely spray graffiti in the light of day. So this budget will do something I have wanted to do for many years: open 311 on Saturdays.
I mentioned a few minutes ago that this budget will invest in the workforce of the future that reflects Minneapolis’ population of the future. We need to invest in this because our workforce is changing.
Following the example of the Mayor who came into office 12 years ago without a single grey hair, we are all getting older. In just 10 years, more than 40% of the city’s current workforce will be eligible to retire. As the economy picks up, we expect these retirements will accelerate, and they already have in key departments like police and fire. If we don't plan for this transition and begin to act, City government will be hit with a “silver tsunami”: Exceptional talent and knowledge will be going out the door without a plan to replace it.
This budget funds an initiative to help departments identify where they will face key retirements in coming years and plan for transition. Departments that have already done this — City Attorney and Assessor — will get funding to replace key employees who may retire in coming years.
We are also investing in steps that help develop a workforce that reflects our community. That includes new resources into STEP-UP, which has brought hundreds of diverse young people into a City Hall where we want them to work someday.
These past two years, we have experimented with expanding STEP-UP through Urban Scholars. This highly competitive program brings promising college students who live in Minneapolis into very meaningful city internships for the summer. The Urban Scholars experiment has worked, beyond our expectations, as these talented college students have made an exceptional impression in every part of City Hall.
Now it's time to make Urban Scholars a permanent part of our hiring strategy. This budget doubles funding for the program. It directs department heads to start planning now for how we can recruit a larger cohort of scholars next summer and hire some of them full-time by the fall.
A safe place to call home
Public Safety silver tsunami
The most significant investments we are making to take on the silver tsunami are in the Police and Fire budgets, so let's turn to our second key area of focus: a safe place to call home.
First, a few important facts:
- The average age of a Minneapolis police officer is 43.
- 44% of police officers are age 45 or older.
- The average age of a Minneapolis firefighter is 46.
- 56% of firefighters are 45 or older.
Now someone my age happens to think that 45 sounds young, but really, it means a very large percentage of the people that we depend on to keep the city safe will soon be eligible for retirement.
- 42% of current police officers will be eligible to retire within 10 years.
- 60% of current firefighters will be eligible to retire within 10 years.
Until very recently, impending retirements weren’t a serious concern for us: the lagging economy and lagging retirement accounts meant that in the past few years, few people were leaving. As the economy picks up, however, that is changing very quickly. The pace of retirements in public safety means we have to act now to open the pipeline to hire new police and firefighters.
There are a couple ways you can hire police and firefighters: you can hire from other departments or grow your own. Sometimes we have to do both, but I prefer to grow our own, especially if we want our workforce to reflect our increasingly diverse city. So this budget funds hiring pipelines that allow both the police and fire chiefs to target diverse new classes that look like the city.
In the Police Department, that means the budget funds a cadet class of 30 and a class of 20 Community Service Officers.
In the Fire Department, that means the budget funds three new classes of 15 each — one in 2013 and two in 2014.
This is a very significant investment. In return, I am directing the chiefs to take every step possible to make sure these are the most diverse classes we can develop. We should also take the lessons learned in STEP-UP and Urban Scholars to develop new employees who are from and represent Minneapolis.
New police training
This hiring comes at a time when incidents involving our police officers have the public rightfully asking whether officers understand and respect the racial and cultural diversity of our city.
For 12 years, I have worked with hundreds of officers in every part of Minneapolis, in good times and bad. I can confidently say that every day, Minneapolis police officers take extraordinary actions to protect and serve people of every background in every part of the city. However, when one single officer makes even one offensive comment — or behaves far worse, on or off duty — it jeopardizes all that good work.
Chief Harteau knows this from her own experience, and her first major action in January was to bring every officer together to raise the bar on what we expect. This budget funds her plan to set the bar even higher.
- It funds putting every single Minneapolis Police Officer through cultural competency training in the next year.
- It funds adding professional psychological interviews into the hiring process to assess potential biases.
- It funds expanding the department’s auditing and early warning systems for officers who are not meeting expectations.
- It funds expanding community engagement, auditing and communications.
We protect and serve a community of many faces, and there is no place for racism and discrimination in our police department, whether on duty or off duty. And we are putting our money where our mouth is.
Chief Harteau has set that expectation for her officers, and the vast majority of them put it into practice in the toughest circumstances every day. The small number of officers who don’t get it, don’t deserve a badge. The rest of them deserve our thanks.
New Fire Department strategies
This budget also funds two other promising hiring strategies for the Fire Department.
One is expanding the Explorer program in Minneapolis Public Schools to include a career in the Fire Department. Students will earn college credit and learn about firefighting while they train to become certified Emergency Medical Specialists. That EMS certification will be especially valuable because of a pilot project we are funding in this budget.
Fully 80% of our Fire Department calls are for medical-emergency response. Whether you call our department about a heart attack or about a fire, we respond the same way: We send a fire truck, which is slower than a car and gets about 0 miles per gallon.
So this year, we are going to pilot a program that on some occasions sends an equipped SUV instead, staffed by these new EMS specialists. If we don’t always need to bring a fire truck to a medical call, the truck can respond more quickly when there is a fire somewhere else. This makes us faster, efficient and more nimble.
An added benefit of this program is that it creates a pipeline for an EMS specialist to become a firefighter. This is the kind of pipeline we need from our schools.
Earlier this year, when we opened up hiring for firefighters, we spent $250,000 for recruitment and testing. Almost 300 recruits came from all over the country. We are honored that people from Hawaii, Portland and other places want to work for us, but this new program makes it easier for a young person from North or South Minneapolis to save lives in their hometown.
Youth Violence and Parent Support
We can make this city safer if the next generation of police and firefighters looks more like Minneapolis. We also make Minneapolis a safe place to call home by building community partnerships, and one of the best examples of this work is the youth-violence prevention plan that this budget continues to fund. I am also providing our Health Department with additional resources to identify and help youth who are most at risk of becoming victims of violence, and to support the parents of teenagers.
North Side lighting
A safe place to call home also means creating the physical environment that nurtures safe communities. An example in this budget is a new Northside lighting plan.
That’s one part of a series of investments this budget makes in a third area: the common ground.
Investing in the common ground
“The budget” that we talk about is really several budgets. The water and solid-waste budgets, for example, are paid for by fees and can’t be mixed with other city work. The biggest budgets are the general fund, which pays for salaries and other operating expenses, and the capital budget, which pays for physical improvements like streets and bridges.
One of the many tools we used when we were facing serious financial issues during my first years in office was to keep the capital budget as small as possible to give us more ability to fund general-fund services like police and fire. At the height of our crime challenges in 2005 and 2006, as we added many more officers to the street by spending less on capital, I described our tough choice as “Your streets are safer because they have potholes.”
In recent years, as we got out of our financial hole and helped bring down violent crime, we reversed that trend and have invested more — much more — in infrastructure, our common ground.
- First, in 2008, we started the five-year Infrastructure Acceleration Program that resurfaced or sealcoated about half of our busiest streets. That was a big step beyond our previous goal of improving one-third of them.
- Then in 2012, we ramped up our capital plan again, increasing investment in our streets, light poles and other basic infrastructure by 60% over five years.
Now we are taking one more step to build up our physical infrastructure. Over the next five years, the budget I’m proposing today adds $16 million more for capital than we had previously budgeted. We will use that to repave and rebuild streets, improve other parts of our aging infrastructure and add infrastructure that will help us grow.
We know this strategy works. As a result of the investments of recent years, and with future investments I’m proposing, our Pavement Condition Index — which had dropped ever year for a long time — has finally turned around and started to improve.
With this budget, we are also investing in advancing the City’s streetcar projects: both the Nicollet/Central modern streetcar project, as well as planning for a future North Washington/West Broadway modern streetcar.
Some critics are saying we shouldn’t do this. That’s what we heard seven years ago when critics said we shouldn’t spend $1 million to develop our plan to re-route buses through downtown. Because we moved ahead, one year later we won a competitive $34 million federal grant to rebuild Marquette and Second. Today Marq2 is an unqualified success, serving more riders than Hiawatha light rail and dramatically improving bus service all over downtown.
Cities that build the transportation infrastructure for tomorrow, cities that don’t get stuck in gridlock, plan ahead. Time and again critics tried to stop the Hiawatha line but today it’s a huge success. Central Corridor will be the same. So will our modern streetcar.
We are not going to build modern streetcars in Minneapolis because they’re cool or retro: we want to build them because they’re necessary. When the Hiawatha, Central, Southwest and Bottineau lines come into Minneapolis, we will not be able to fit another LRT line without a massive public works project that may not even be possible. We need shorter, more flexible streetcars because without them, this growing city will be gridlocked with cars.
The Legislature’s approval of our funding tool was the biggest victory for transit this session. Now let’s get the job done.
This budget invests in 12 pieces of cycling infrastructure. Among them:
- The extension of the Riverside Avenue path to connect to the LRT station.
- The long-awaited lighting of the Hiawatha LRT Trail.
- And two large sections of 26th Avenue through North Minneapolis which will be part of the great Northern Greenway connecting 26th Ave North to 18th Ave Northeast.
My budget also invests in a kind of transportation that we have not focused on enough in this town: it’s a good, old-fashioned mode shift to something called “walking.” The five-year capital plan that I am proposing makes a variety of pedestrian investments, including pathway paving and bridges, sidewalk improvements, lighting improvements, a pedestrian staircase to the new Dinkytown Greenway, and beginning to convert the 5th Street off-ramp from I-94 to a pedestrian connection between downtown and the West Bank.
At the same time, we should also acknowledge that people in Minneapolis have to walk in that old-fashioned kind of weather we call “winter.” I am proposing new investments to clear snow from busy pedestrian intersections and bike ways.
One street where I want to see more pedestrians is 29th Street, which sits right above the Midtown Greenway. You may know this as one of America’s worst streets, found in Uptown, one of America’s fastest-growing neighborhoods. The terrible condition of 29th means if we stick with the status quo we will spend many millions on a complete redo of a street.
There’s a better idea: Take most or all cars off 29th and make it a grand pedestrian way, like New York’s High Line, from the Calhoun-Isles channel and The Mall through the dense, car-dominated Uptown and Lyn-Lake neighborhoods and, eventually across the heart of the city.
That’s the future of 29th Street, and my budget funds the beginning of transforming it from potholed blight to popular amenity. The future 29th Street, just like the Midtown Greenway before it, will spark more growth and more density, and take more cars off our streets. And that’s good for every part of our city.
We may have to make some concessions, especially for a grocery delivery dock and parking, and I know there will be 37 different reasons why this is difficult or inconvenient. But it’s time we got bigger visions for that old-fashioned transportation strategy called walking. America’s #1 city for bikes should also be America’s #1 city for pedestrians.
Being stewards of the environment
The final point I want to make in this section on common ground is that all ground is not equal. Minneapolis was built in the greatest natural environment of any city in America. Visionary founders created a city in a park. It’s our obligation to be fierce stewards of our environment, but I don’t think we can say we have shown enough stewardship for our air.
Neighborhood-level air-quality study
The tough thing about urban air quality is that it is difficult to pinpoint with precision where pollutants originate from. This budget will fund a neighborhood-level approach to the study of air quality that will place air-monitoring badges at 85 mobile stations through Minneapolis over two years. This is a cost-effective strategy that will allow us to target our efforts to the areas with the greatest need.
Replacing our trees
Stewards of the environment will recognize that we have faced a very difficult period of time for one our greatest natural resources: The extraordinary tree canopy that brings shade and beauty to every part of our City, and provides other great benefits.
We work hard to keep up our tree canopy, and the Park Board plants 5,000 trees a year. In 2006, we also launched City Trees and since then, this City-funded program has sold 10,000 trees at a discounted price to city residents to plant on private property.
In an average year, we lose 4,000–5,000 on boulevards and in parks, in addition to thousands more on private property. But in recent years, we have lost many more in parks and on boulevards, including:
- 5,800 to the 2011 tornado;
- at least 3,000 to this year’s storms;
- and since 2006, 11,000 to Dutch Elm disease.
The worst is coming: by 2020, we anticipate losing 40,000 more trees in parks and on boulevards to the emerald ash borer — and another 175,000 on private property.
Sadly, our increasingly unpredictable weather means we may face even more challenges. The Park Board is in charge of trees and they are taking significant action, but they need our help right now to address this unprecedented sequence of events. They are laying out a bold plan for reforesting the city, which I support. I will also support their call for a special tree levy.
We are also looking down the road by adding trees to an important road project. Hennepin County has an exciting plan to rebuild Penn Avenue North into a parkway with transit. Work is scheduled to start in two years and in our long-range capital budget there is money to realize our vision of lining that street with flowering trees. Years from now, on the springtime anniversary of that horrible 2011 tornado, people will come to North Minneapolis to see a beautiful boulevard lined with fragrant trees that remind us that the spirit of North Minneapolis comes back even more strongly.
Like so many people in this city, from the earliest time I can remember, I have had the incredible good fortune to walk down tree-lined streets. Generations to come deserve the same privilege. We have to act boldly, and act now.
Growing the city
In this budget, we invest in:
- Running the City well;
- Ensuring Minneapolis is a safe place to call home;
- The common ground that helps everyone succeed;
And, finally, in growing the city.
Population, construction and jobs growth
In April, I laid out the vision of a Minneapolis with 450,000 residents by 2025. That seemed like a big goal that we could only reach with bold, aggressive action.
It was a big goal in April, but not now. Minneapolis is growing so fast in these past few months that if we simply stayed on this pace, we would hit that 450,000 population mark by 2025. True, we won’t always grow like we are now, but this does give us confidence to reset the goal and aim for 500,000 by 2025 — which is the population we had in the 1950s before sprawl, freeway construction and other factors led to a plunge in population.
We aren’t just setting population goals for bragging rights. We do it because the more people who live in Minneapolis, the more people there are to support strong schools, shopping districts, restaurants, arts groups and all the amenities that add excitement to our neighborhoods.
Equally importantly, more people living in Minneapolis means that more of us share the costs of running a city: When we split the costs of police, firefighters, roads and water with more people, each of us pays less.
Growth is a great thing for Minneapolis, and it’s a great thing we are growing again.
This year, we have issued almost 3,000 construction permits that are worth about $690 million so far. At this pace we will beat last year’s record of $1.2 billion.
The construction boom is part of a wider recovery. Minneapolis has been outpacing most metropolitan areas since the end of the Great Recession. Our region’s unemployment rate is the lowest of every major American metro. In fact, for the first time since 2002, there are more than 300,000 jobs in Minneapolis. This means we have finally regained all the jobs lost in the post-9/11 recession and in the Great Recession.
We are growing so fast that we need to add more staff for plan review, inspections and other important jobs necessary to help private developers put private money into private projects.
Most of these positions will be covered by fees, but this budget uses some general-fund dollars where needed to make sure that we do not slow down one of America’s fastest-growing cities.
One Minneapolis: affordable housing
The only places we invest directly are where the private market is not doing what we need to do to have a healthy city. We can’t be One Minneapolis if some people can’t find decent, affordable places to live, so we have invested more than $73 million over the past decade in affordable housing, which has led to almost $800 million of investment and supported almost 7,000 units. These investments have also created an estimated 13,000 construction jobs.
Our plan continues to allow us to fund affordable housing. I also propose that we set aside 30% of our investments in affordable housing for senior housing to support the exciting work being led by Council Members John Quincy and Sandy Colvin Roy. Being One Minneapolis means that the people who built our neighborhoods should be able to live in them throughout their lives.
One Minneapolis: Grow North
To make sure that we become One Minneapolis, we have aggressively invested in North Minneapolis. It is seeing progress but needs our continued support.
This budget continues to support our new Grow North initiative that supplements current citywide tools and resources with additional incentives for businesses to locate in North Minneapolis. If a business commits to locating at least 75 jobs in North Minneapolis, we will provide them with:
- Forgivable loans for capital investments,
- Workforce recruitment and training,
- And homebuyer downpayment assistance for employees.
One Minneapolis: Gaviidae Common sale
When we’ve had a success in one part of the city, it’s also important that it be shared with all of One Minneapolis. This budget takes money that the City made downtown from the sale of Gaviidae Common and puts it into growing strong neighborhoods in other parts of Minneapolis.
Council member Lisa Goodman and I have spent 12 years making a strong case that city government needs to be a tougher negotiator on behalf of its residents. That strategy paid off when we sold our share of Gaviidae Common this year for $8 million, far more than some were predicting. We should use this success downtown to spur growth in neighborhoods that need it. So this budget directs the Gaviidae proceeds back to three neighborhood priorities:
- First, the Great Streets Neighborhood Business District program, which has proven its worth by creating 1,200 jobs in small businesses along our commercial corridors, which are home to 40% of our city’s jobs and generate 50% of our sales taxes.
- Second, the Midtown Global Market, a nationally-recognized model of investing in diverse entrepreneurship. The market hosts 1.4 million customers a year, but it has operated on a shoestring. This budget gives ongoing support and money to make capital improvements that will continue its success.
- Third, the remainder of the Gaviidae proceeds will be put into our Development Account, which is used on key projects throughout the city. This money includes resources to move forward on a city goal that for negotiating purposes, I can’t describe right now. If it works, you’ll be happy.
Running the city well, keeping it safe, investing in the common ground, and growing the city. That’s where this budget makes major investments in our future.
Let’s finish by talking about how we pay for it.
As I said earlier, we’ve made tough fiscal reforms over the last decade, including holding down our spending, that have helped keep property taxes 35% lower than they otherwise would have been.
But even when we hold spending down, costs go up. When you add in step increases for salaries and wages, the increased cost of health care and pensions, and other regular inflationary increases, maintaining our current service levels without any new additional services costs an additional $9.8 million more in 2014.
Because of this, when we delivered the 2013 budget last year, we estimated that to keep the same level of services, we would have to raise property taxes 2.5% in 2014. And in fact, our costs have risen a little faster than that, so keeping the same level of service in 2014 would mean increasing taxes by 2.8% next year.
Well, we aren’t going to do that.
We don’t have to raise property taxes that much because of a few factors:
- First, as I mentioned earlier, the Governor and Legislature restored part of our Local Government Aid.
- Second, led by Council Member Hodges, we created the Property Tax Relief Fund that put away $7 million that we saved last year. We are using $5 million of that for this budget and saving $2 million to buy down property taxes in future years.
- Third, the additional revenue that we now control and the ongoing tax relief from the stadium legislation.
Because of those factors, I am very happy to announce that this budget will cut property taxes by 1%.
I would remind you that this decrease is actually 3.8% lower than the growth in our costs.
We should also remember that when our levy stayed flat or went up slightly in 2012 and 2013, property taxes went down for about 70% of homeowners.
A final point on property taxes: For all of the years I have been in office we have had a governor or a legislature that shifted state policies away from property taxpayers. This Governor and Legislature reversed that, and the direct property-tax refunds they passed will target additional relief to many lower-income Minneapolis residents. We thank them again for understanding how tough the last decade has been on homeowners.
The bottom line on property taxes is this: In tough times, we asked residents to invest more to keep the city strong. With times getting a little better, we will ask less.
Great city for generations to come
So today I deliver plans to fund the city for the coming year, but I want to be clear: this is not a 2014 budget. This is a budget that invests next year in efforts that will pay off for years, and decades:
- A new generation of police and firefighters who reflect the face of a diversifying city.
- Repaved streets and rebuilt roads that will last for decades.
- New resources to invest in growing businesses along our commercial streets, and continue the success at the Global Market.
- Investments in modern streetcar lines, bikes, and pedestrian improvements so that just a few years from now, people can live well in Minneapolis without depending on a car.
- Long-term strategies to reforest our city and clean our air.
The list goes on, and it should. We stand on broad shoulders in Minneapolis. Today we join our predecessors whose investments looked down the road (and paved it, too), building a great city for generations to come.
Last updated Aug. 15, 2013