2008 Budget Address
Mayor R.T. Rybak
Monday, September 24, 2007
The budget I am about to deliver is a common sense budget that puts public safety first, focuses on basic services and invests in jobs, housing and other strategies that create ladders of opportunity in our city. With this budget we are showing that Minneapolis is a city that works, not only during an emergency, but every day of the year. With this budget, we are:
- Making Minneapolis a safe place to call home;
- Growing an economy that works for everyone; and
- Investing in basic infrastructure for the common good.
But before I go into those details allow me to provide some financial context about how we accomplish those goals and remain committed to delivering a good government for a good value.
Our ability to make long-term quality investments in city government has been deeply challenged in these past few years, primarily because of deep funding cuts from the state and long-term debt.
In 2003, when the state cut $37 million a year from Minneapolis, we had to make some very difficult decisions. A small part of the state cuts was restored two years ago, but we still get $35 million less this year than before the cuts came down. The new state legislature understood this problem and passed legislation that would have restored $13 million. The Governor vetoed that bill, said that he would reconsider it in the wake of the I-35W Bridge collapse, but has apparently backed off that decision. In the end, we still have $35 million less to spend on police, fire, infrastructure and all the other core services we provide. We will continue to fight this battle at the state capitol, reminding others that Minneapolis contributes far more to the state coffers than we get back, and we thank our legislators for supporting us.
The issue of paying off past debt is a better story, because we made it one. When I came into office I said that I would address the City’s growing debts by paying off the credit cards so our kids wouldn’t need to. Backed by the Council, we have reduced our debt each year and if the budget I deliver today is accepted without change, we will have eliminated $86.5 million of debt since 2002, which means we have $7.6 million more to spend this year on basic services like public safety.
I must warn you that we still have significant debt, most notably with our pension obligations. While we made some progress in the 2007 legislative session, we still need significant reforms, and we will not be successful without the support of our entire legislative delegation. The impact on our city budget is significant. Without legislative approval of the reforms we seek, our annual pension costs will reach $32 million by 2012. This is $8 million more than the entire cost of our annual road maintenance and snow removal programs. We have got to get this done.
We must remember that we have also been able to reduce debt because we streamlined city services and focused on the right priorities. We put public safety and basic core services first. We reformed the way we delivered services and demanded measurable results, and we made painful but necessary cuts.
This budget, like every budget I’ve delivered, is structurally balanced over five years, not just next year. While I’ve pushed the boundaries of that structural balance to the limit, I’ve done that to meet our most urgent needs in public safety, job growth and basic infrastructure. But if we do not get new, collaborative leadership from the state on local government aid and pension reform, we will likely spend the next several years just trying to maintain funding for the investments we’ve made without addressing other pressing city needs crying for attention.
In spite of our difficult budget challenges, we are making progress on the basic bread and butter issues facing Minneapolis:
- We are making Minneapolis a safe place to call home
- We are growing an economy that works for everyone
- We are investing basic infrastructure for the common good
#1: We are Making Minneapolis a Safe Place to Call Home
Minneapolis continues to face serious public safety challenges that require us to continue to make significant investments to fight crime. The budget I am delivering today will do just that: funds the largest police force we’ve had in five years, invests in community prosecutors and restorative justice that holds criminals accountable, and supports a series of initiatives that attack the root causes of crime.
None of the efforts we will launch starts from scratch. Over the past two years have met the challenge of crime with a multi-faceted plan of attack that has begun to crack down on repeat criminals, break up juvenile gangs and reform problem properties:
- We started by growing a significantly stronger, larger, more visible police force.
- We implemented cutting-edge public safety technology on our streets.
- We helped our officers more effectively get criminal cases charged with better prosecution.
- We collaborated with other law enforcement agencies in a coordinated crack-down on gangs and repeating violent offenders.
- We focused on juvenile crime and reinstated our Juvenile Crime Unit.
- We funded community-based youth prevention programs.
- We focused on illegal gun seizures.
- We demanded safer neighborhoods by demanding cleaner neighborhoods and enforced high property standards across this city, even in challenged areas.
These strategies constitute one of the most aggressive attacks on crime underway anywhere. The results of our efforts are beginning to be seen. For the first time in years, violent crime is falling, down 14 percent citywide and trending downward in every police precinct. Homicides are down 24 percent, robbery is down 18 percent and aggravated assaults are down 10 percent. While the bulk of our crime and our crime fighting efforts continues to be concentrated in North Minneapolis, there we are also seeing continued, consistent progress. Violent crime is down 17 percent in North Minneapolis 4 th police precinct so far this year, with every category of violent crime down by double-digit margins in those neighborhoods.
Our crime rate is dropping, but it’s still too high and we will not let up in our fight to make every street in Minneapolis a safe place to call home. We are making progress but we have a long way to go, as the recent murder of bicyclist Mark Loesch and the shooting this weekend of 12 year old Vernice Hall demonstrate. We also need to focus on burglaries, which are way too high.
That’s why in this budget, as I have for the last three years, I am again proposing significant investments in public safety – far more than any other part of the city government.
Crime is a complex problem that requires a complex set of comprehensive solutions. Our plan still starts with tough enforcement, and also includes protecting livability, remains dedicated to crime prevention and a relentless demand for clear accountability and consistent results.
Our most powerful tool to fight crime is more police officers on the street. We have been aggressively hiring more than 100 diverse officers for two years now and we are going to continue. With this 2008 budget we will be adding funding for 18 more sworn officers and the civilian support that they need to be more effective. With these new officers, we will have 880 budgeted sworn officers, more than we have had any year since 2002.
The police department has grown significantly in the past few years, from $98 million in 2003 to $112 million in 2007. Today, I am proposing another significant increase for 2008 with a total police department budget of $121.2 million. The police department has grown - and in 2008 will continue to grow - faster than any other city department as we remain solidly focused on keeping our city safe. We do this at a time of continued dramatic state budget cuts and extremely limited resources. While we are putting more resources into the department, we are also making sure that the police budget reflects reality and is managed more strictly.
Now let me take a minute to set some things straight about the size of our police department, which has been the focus of some confusion and complication. Let me start by saying that it’s important to remember that police staffing levels fluctuate throughout the course of the year, making it difficult to articulate an exact, consistent number of officers on any given day or week. A quick look at the past two years makes this point obvious:
- In 2007, the number of sworn officers fluctuated between 851 and 862
- In 2006, the number of sworn officers fluctuated between 794 and 836
- In 2005, the number of sworn officers fluctuated between 737 and 796
Police officers are hired in groups and classes, we have attrition over time, we have military leave and injury that take officers off duty. There is no constant force strength number. I recognize that at times I and others in the city have contributed to this confusion. So we sat down with the police and finance departments to arrive at a consistent number that can best represent our commitment to putting more officers on the street. While force numbers change through the course of the year and do not represent our full financial commitment to public safety, the one number that is constant is the number of targeted budgeted sworn positions that we aim to fund in a given year.
As crime began to increase, our first response was rightly to focus our resources into putting more cops on the street. We revved up our hiring process and hired more than 100 officers over the last two years. However, focusing our resources into cops on the street were leaving our other internal police functions understaffed and our officers under-supported. To correct this situation, over the course of last year Chief Dolan decided that, in addition to new cops, police internal divisions needed to be increased. That’s why he transferred funding from cops on the street to civilian positions in the department to make our officers more effective. Here’s what we gained with these 18 civilian positions:
- We gained a 24-hour crime lab with the addition of two more certified Crime Lab Specialists and two Forensic Scientists. Having a 24-hour crime lab helps our police to collect and research crime evidence more quickly and helps solve more crimes sooner.
- For the same cost as two police officers, we gained three Property and Evidence Specialists who save our police precious time by more quickly inventorying property and evidence associated with suspected criminals.
- We retained a valuable Latino community outreach worker who was previously funded by a grant that was eliminated.
- We kept the Midtown and West Broadway Safety Centers staffed by retaining Crime Prevention Specialists in each location.
- We gained another crime case investigator to help immediately track and solve crimes.
- We gained a healthier police force with a medical processor who helps rehabilitate injured officers who are hurt during duty and a wellness coordinator who monitors police fitness.
- We gained better policy with the addition of two data analysts who conduct research and update police procedures and practices.
All these changes mean there are 18 fewer uniformed officers than we expected in the last budget, but each one of these people makes our police more effective and these changes represent smart police strategy that is already paying off.
We also had another challenge with the police budget that is a result of our success. As we added more officers, and as their productivity increased, arrests went up. That’s good. But our fees to the Hennepin County Jail are based on how many people we send to jail, so our jail fees are up as well. In fact, the jail fees we are expected to pay to Hennepin County are now up $1 million over last year. So this budget adds $1 million to the police budget to cover those costs. I would prefer putting that million dollars into more officers, and I know County Commissioners agree, so we need to negotiate with them to remove a disincentive for our officers to do their job.
Second, it is clear that our overtime budget is not realistic. As we have wrestled to ensure that the police department budget reflects reality, we have come face-to-face with the complicated issue of overtime. While we know there is a need to better manage police overtime and Chief Dolan has done that, the solutions are not simple or straightforward.
At times, police overtime is a necessary and important tool our officers need. In the hours and days immediately following a homicide, it is imperative that a team of two investigators works around the clock to collect evidence and interview witnesses in order to solve the case and find the suspected perpetrators as quickly as possible. We can’t cut this overtime.
Other times, police overtime is used as a blunt tool, the costs of which more than diminish any public safety benefit. For example, when officers use several hours of overtime to appear in court for a $75 fine they issued, it is not a productive use of resources. These types of cases can and are begin better managed and I applaud the department’s effort to get on top of this issue.
While we improve the management of overtime and adhere to stricter guidelines for overtime, it is also clear that we are not providing enough resources for overtime in the police budget. That’s why I’m proposing $800,000 more for overtime in the police budget to better reflect this reality.
As we responded to the up-tick in crime over the last few years, we asked our police to do more than they were truly able to do with their budget. We also did not adequately build into the budget enough resources to respond to spikes in crime traditionally experienced during summer. We need to have accountability with honest, transparent budgeting. So this budget provides police $2.5 million for the flexibility to respond to changing needs in the department and to fund essential positions that used to be funded with grant dollars that were taken away from us.
While our multi-faceted crime-fighting plan begins with more police, we also know that making our city a safe place to call home is about more than just police on the street.
That’s why this budget adds $300,000 to fund four more 911 operators, to improve emergency response time around the clock.
That’s why this budget gives the police department the resources to manage the hundreds of thousands of dollars of cutting-edge safety technology now in place around the city. We have shot-spotter sensors and security cameras helping our police be more effective and we need to ensure that those technologies are fully woven into our crime-fighting strategy.
That’s why this budget provides $800,000 to fund our precinct-based community prosecutors and $75,000 to expand restorative justice efforts to hold criminals accountable for their actions.
That’s why this budget provides funding for the police to partner with the Greater Minneapolis Council of Churches to mentor adults and juveniles returning to our neighborhoods from correctional facilities. With the support of mentors, three-quarters of ex-offenders re-enter our community and build constructive lives to contribute positively to our neighborhoods, rather than return to a life of crime. Without such support, 60 percent are likely to re-offend within three years of release.
This budget also provides more funding for graffiti prevention and removal, including $150,000 to support targeted community-based micro grants for neighborhood mural and painting projects that help prevent gang-related graffiti. Graffiti continues to be a problem in our city. Although we’re doing a better job of removing graffiti with 96 percent of the 9,338 graffiti cases the city processed so far this year already closed, that’s still 9,338 cases that required attention. Funding $150,000 for community-based micro-grants will help us better prevent graffiti, especially gang graffiti, from happening in the first place. These grants will be targeted to the neighborhoods where they are needed most.
With this budget we are also looking upstream to attack the root causes of crime. The largest driver behind our crime challenge is violent young people. We are sending a strong message to these young offenders – especially those in the barbaric gangs responsible for random deaths – that no matter how old they are they will be held accountable. Our new Juvenile Crime Unit significantly increased arrests and successful charges by coordinating information on chronic juvenile offenders and immediately connecting troubled youth to social service programs that help them transition out of crime. As the current chair of the Joint Powers Curfew Truancy Task Force, I want to strengthen our Juvenile Unit by pairing it with a joint powers juvenile curfew and truancy resource center also located in City Hall. This budget provides nearly $100,000 to make that happen this year.
When facing violent criminals, we need to be tough. We also know the smartest crime fighting strategy is to prevent crime in the first place. The best crime prevention strategies not only prevent crime right now, but lay the foundation to keep crime under control for years to come. There are young people on the fringes of gangs and criminal behavior who can still be won back and we cannot give up on them.
This summer we launched our Youth Violence Prevention committee to significantly reduce youth violence in Minneapolis. Chaired by Ellen Luger of the General Mills Foundation and Karen Kelley-Ariwoola of the Minneapolis Foundation, this diverse group of people is working to develop a multi-year action plan with clear, measurable outcomes that reduce youth violence by engaging parents and providing opportunities for youth to connect with trusted adults and with their culture. The committee’s recommendations are due out in the coming weeks and I am proposing to provide them with $100,000 to ensure they have the resources to begin implementing those recommendations.
We also know that part of keeping youth safe involves keeping them engaged with trusted adults in productive activities. That’s why this budget proposes to match private fundraising with $150,000 city dollars to fund the "You(th) Are Here" circulator bus year round to ensure that kids can safely participate in structured activities. And we are funding $675,000 for the terrific work of the Youth Coordinating Board.
Taken altogether, this budget will fund more than $200.1 million for public safety strategies in the coming year, including more than $6 million in new spending and a significant increase over previous years. We are using more city money to replace state aid that used to pay for our public safety priorities. We are putting our money where our values are because public safety is our top priority and we will not rest until it is brought under control.
#2: With this budget we are growing an economy that works for everyone
Minneapolis’ uniquely large, strong middle class is one of our best assets and makes us special among large American cities. Minneapolis is growing again: more people are living here, more are relocating here, more are investing here, and more are working here than a generation ago. In fact last year was the first year in at least 25 years (1980) in which Minneapolis had two back-to-back years of sustained growth in three key indicators: more new jobs, more new housing and more new population. We added 9,000 jobs last year. That’s twice the growth rate of the metropolitan area as a whole. Our unemployment rate is down to 3.9 percent – the lowest level we’ve achieved in six years. Our economy is robust and right now has almost $1.2 billion of major private investment projects (more than $1 million in size) currently underway. Our life sciences industry is expanding, our creative economy is thriving, and we are underway to become a leading center for green manufacturing in America. It comes as no surprise that MarketWatch recently named Minneapolis-St. Paul the best place for business of the nation’s fifty largest urban areas. This economic profile has not happened by accident or overnight.
- We invested millions of dollars to directly place nearly 14,000 hard to employ city residents into unsubsidized private sector jobs in addition to the more than 3,000 subsidized city jobs for previously unemployed residents.
- We seeded multiple developments across North Minneapolis such as at Penn and Lowry or West Broadway and Emerson. We have exciting plans underway for Penn at West Broadway, the Capri Theater, and for a new YWCA facility anchored at 800 West Broadway across the street from Cub Foods.
- We developed guidelines to protect good manufacturing jobs in Minneapolis so we don’t become a city of just condos and coffee shops.
With this year’s budget, I am proposing more than $11 million in workforce development and economic development strategies that will keep our economy strong, keep it growing, and keep ladders of opportunity open for more people in our community.
Our work starts with helping more of our residents, especially those who need it, to attain and retain a middle class lifestyle with a good job. We know that city government has a role to play, through our employment and training network, which works with community-based providers to create jobs for those most in need. Our efforts over the past four years has lowered the unemployment rate and put thousands of people to work in unsubsidized, private sector jobs. This budget provides $1.5 million for job training and placement to keep that progress going.
Beyond connecting people to jobs and preparing future workers, we need to continue creating more jobs by also supporting our entrepreneurs and small business owners, who are responsible for half of all new jobs created. We’ll support these small businesses with more than $4.7 million dollars of business financing tools that provide:
- market-rate loans for job creation,
- low-interest loans to purchase equipment or make building improvements,
- loans to purchase and rehabilitate small commercial and industrial properties, and
- alternative financing loans with no interest to business owners whose religious beliefs restrict them from receiving traditional interest-based financing.
And because we know that economic growth is stunted by uneven small-business growth across the city, we are moving aggressively to implement our new "Great Streets" Initiative with an emphasis on our most challenged commercial nodes and corridors. Whether already vibrant, or in need of additional investment, our neighborhood business districts are our Great Streets — essential elements of a great city. Our success on Franklin Avenue and Lake Street demonstrates that a middle class will grow from a turnaround commercial corridor. That’s what we now aim to accomplish on West Broadway, Chicago, Riverside, and other critical corridors by providing more than $2.1 million in the coming year for the Great Streets Neighborhood Business District program.
The third way that we are working to bring economic opportunity and security to Minneapolis residents is by implementing a comprehensive housing strategy that addresses the full continuum of housing needs.
I am proposing to spend more than $16 million to improve housing options in Minneapolis in 2008. This includes fully funding the $10 million Affordable Housing Trust Fund, which helps build rental housing for low-income people and families, and also funding more than $6 million towards other efforts, including the five-point strategy to address the foreclosure crisis and the boarded and vacant properties it’s leaving in its wake, especially in North Minneapolis.
While one of the greatest threats facing Minneapolis, we must remember that the foreclosure crisis is a global phenomenon that we cannot solve alone. We need a continued partnership with state and community groups and the federal government to reverse this disastrous trend. For over a year, however, we have had a plan to respond aggressively to the impact of hundreds of mortgage foreclosures in our city and we will continue to fund those efforts again in 2008.
Strategy 1: Prevent Foreclosures
Our first strategy is to prevent foreclosures by providing counseling and appropriate mortgage support to first-time homebuyers and current homeowners seeking to refinance their homes.
My budget includes almost $700,000 in mortgage foreclosure prevention and education efforts.
Strategy 2: Prevent Properties from Becoming Boarded & Vacant
When foreclosure cannot be prevented, our second strategy is to keep foreclosed or otherwise abandoned properties from becoming vacant, blighted, hazardous, or targets for crime. My budget includes $1 million towards a Strategic Acquisition Fund, in partnership with the Family Housing Fund and the Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation, to match $11 million from the state, which will allow us to quickly acquire and rehabilitate foreclosed or boarded and vacant properties and get them back into the hands of stable homeowners.
Strategy 3: Rehabilitate or Remove Boarded & Vacant Buildings
For properties that have become boarded and vacant, the best strategy is rapid rehabilitation or removal, to minimize the blighting influence and facilitate positive redevelopment. The City’s Regulatory Services and Community Planning and Economic Development Departments are working hand-in-hand, armed with $880,000 in my budget, to address all boarded and vacant buildings within city limits during the next three years.
Strategy 4: Promote Reinvestment & Environmental Sustainability
Quality is contagious. The City needs to set a high-quality example on projects over which we have direct influence. In turn, our developments will attract additional high-quality private investment. That’s why, as I just mentioned, we are seeding multiple economic developments across North Minneapolis. You can begin to see the change already underway on W. Broadway.
Strategy 5: Attract & Retain a Healthy Mix of Stable Residents
Ultimately it is the mix of Northside residents, including homeowners and renters – not the properties themselves – that will create and sustain a healthy Northside community. To attract and strengthen resident in North Minneapolis, the City will partner with Greater Metropolitan Housing Corporation to encourage market demand for housing in North Minneapolis by matching home-buyer down-payment grants from neighborhood associations and providing residents with home improvement funds.
The City is also exploring a possible employee incentive with GMHC to encourage public-sector and non-profit employees to live in Minneapolis neighborhoods, targeted at foreclosed and vacant homes. We are working with other employers to make the reach of the program broad enough to have an impact on this huge issue for the City. The programs elements could include:
- An equity guarantee allows buyers of foreclosed properties to know that they’re secure in the largest purchase of their lives – their homes. The City shows its commitment to making the areas they’re moving into attractive over time. We’d be putting our money where our mouth is – if the property’s appraised value drops in the five year period of the program, the buyer gets 100% of the value drop.
- Down payment assistance would entice City employees to live in areas impacted by the wave of foreclosures with cash assistance in the home buying transaction. The amount would be forgiven over five to seven years, as the buyer sets down roots in the neighborhood.
# 3: We are Investing Basic Infrastructure
We are nowhere near where we need to be in terms of investment in basic city infrastructure. Our city, our state and our nation have not invested as we must in roads, bridges and transit – and our lack of investment has serious consequences. I say this as the Mayor of a city recovering from a tragedy that was not an act of God, but a failure of Man. For some time we have known that our investment has not kept pace with maintenance and rehabilitation needs.
We know that there is no free lunch when it comes to basic infrastructure. Every day we are required to keep a relentless focus on results, because every day our citizens see at the grassroots whether we are providing the basic services they expect, and whether they are getting good value for their tax dollars. We need to be honest about our need to improve mobility – and what it will cost to get there.
In the face of reduced state funding and mounting pension obligations, we have needed to prioritize investment of resources into public safety, at the direct expense of other basic services. Almost no other area of the city has felt this pain more than our city infrastructure. While city general fund spending over the last five years for police will have grown 30 percent, spending for public works grew only 10 percent over the same time period.
As we all learned so dramatically nearly two months ago, our transportation infrastructure needs ongoing attention and repair. We are investing as our resources allow.
In addition to the capital bonding work planned for a dozen specific bridges, I am recommending that capital funds for City Bridge Repair and Rehabilitation be more than doubled in 2008 and increased over next five years from $950,000 to $1,450,000. It is important to note that this funding increase was planned before the I-35W Bridge collapse, not in response to it, as part of the need we identified to improve bridges as part of our repair and rehab program. This additional funding will allow us to increase the number of bridges receiving deck renovation and preservation. Our bridge program also includes funding to address Midtown Greenway Corridor Bridges, six of which are currently on the state’s list of ten city-owned bridges rated in the "structurally deficient" category.
Over the past five years, we have invested more than $17.3 million into our bridge capital program. We will continue to invest in our bridges to keep them safe and preserve their lifespan.
However, only 29 percent of the 411 vehicle bridges in Minneapolis are owned by the city government, so we need our county, state, and federal partners to do their part to make sure that all the bridges in our city are safe and meet the needs of our residents and visitors.
Since 2001 we also have invested $140 million dollars to make our drinking water even safer and as a result, now have a state-of-the art ultra-filtration water system. As the nation is finally realizing that you can drink water out of your tap instead of buying it in plastic bottles that clog our landfills, people in Minneapolis can brag about having some of the best public drinking water in the country. Our water tops taste tests, provides clean water for the region and makes people think twice before paying money to buy water in a plastic bottle. This budget will continue investing $67 million in our public water facilities and allow us to confidently let the public know about the cleanliness and safety of our water.
Access Minneapolis: Developing a Transportation Vision
While the State has not been a leader on transportation funding, we in Minneapolis nonetheless are demonstrating the power of the City to speak with one voice on a transportation vision.
First, because of our work together to invest nearly $22.5 million in bicycle and pedestrian amenities over the past five years, Minneapolis was one of only four communities in the nation selected to receive $7 million in federal grant money through the Non-Motorized Transportation Pilot Project. We will use these funds through Bike Walk Minneapolis to make this the best biking and walking city in America.
Second, because of our work together to advance the Access Minneapolis plan, we were ready when the bridge collapsed to not only respond from a public safety standpoint but to respond with a transportation vision that helped us make the case for an LRT ready bridge and for new freeway access from the east side of downtown to I-35W northbound.
Third, because of our work together on Access Minneapolis and our work to build a broad-based, bi-partisan coalition of mayors and legislators from throughout the I-35W corridor for Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), we were ready to successfully push for the Urban Partnership Agreement and the $133 million it will bring to this region. This Agreement with the USDOT will a.) Bring us a giant step closer to that BRT vision and b.) Rebuild Marquette and Second Avenues downtown into a commuter transit mall that will make our vision for multimodal downtown a reality.
We will now do the same thing on the next great step forward for Minneapolis transportation: modern streetcars on high frequency transit corridors. Right now as part of the Streetcar Feasibility Study, we are developing design standards for streetcar-ready streets so that as sections of these streets are rebuilt, they are rebuilt to a high standard of transit amenities: a streetcar standard. My budget will continue this important work beyond the final streetcar report, as we work to build a public private partnership to build our first streetcar line.
With this budget we are making progress on the basic bread and butter issues facing Minneapolis. We are making Minneapolis a Safe Place to Call Home. We are growing an economy that works for everyone. We are investing basic infrastructure. While delivering on the basics, we are also continuing a relentless focus on innovation that keeps this city at the cutting-edge.
We found a better way to be one of the first and only cities in the country to design and implement one-call government, to serve as an easy entry-point for people to access their government. An astounding 343,000 people called 311 last year and 298,000 so far this year – a 30 percent increase. That’s 641,000 to date who called to report graffiti, potholes, or broken sidewalks; who called to connect with their elected representatives, attend public meetings, and get engaged in their government; who called to get help facing mortgage foreclosure. This budget will continue investing this state-of-the art system with $2.5 million.
We found a better way to be one of the first and only cities in the country to design and implement a prototype high-speed, wireless internet network. In the process we found a better way to help our police officers, our fire fighters, our housing inspectors and scores of other city staff work more effectively and efficiently. In the process, we also found a better way to bridge the digital divide in our city and help more people access their city government. In the process, we found a new and better way to respond to emergency disasters now being studied around the world. A unique aspect of our wireless model places the City as the core consumer and the budget I propose will be the first Minneapolis budget that fully reflects the financial commitment we have made to this innovative technology investment with $1.25 million and will put $100,000 to help fund dozens of free online community portals.
We found a better way to create a specific innovative role for city government to play in the development of our children for the future. We used the unique position we had to bring together the school district, Achieve Minneapolis, private employers, MCTC, Metro State and the University of Minnesota to say to our kids: stay in school, work hard, develop your plan for the future and we will break down every barrier to help you get there. We will get you counseling and support, summer jobs, even free college tuition. The budget I deliver continues growing the STEP UP youth summer jobs program and cements their connection with Career Centers and free-college tuition programs. STEP UP employed 2,037 youth this past summer – more than 600 than were employed the summer of 2006. This is tremendous work that needs to keep going.
We found a better way to revitalize and improve North Minneapolis. Our NorthForce initiative, which intensifies our focus and increases our coordination on measurable outcomes for every city department to achieve in North Minneapolis, is showing great results. We are responding aggressively to crime, to problem businesses, to foreclosures. We are investing in people, in entrepreneurs, in neighborhoods. We must continue to make progress and measure progress on our city’s most challenged and important neighborhoods and I believe that this budget will support that progress.
We found a better way to create a premier library system that maximizes the best of our Minneapolis and Hennepin County libraries. A unified city-county library system will help ensure that residents have access to one of the best library systems in the nation that is also a stronger, more stable, fairer, more accountable and more efficient library system. This budget provides funds to complete the library unification. As I promised, this budget includes $22.1 million for the libraries, including $1.7 million of new funding from the City for enhanced service levels and to re-opening the three libraries closed last year.
Lastly, we have found dozens of better ways to run our city in a more environmentally sustainable way that helps fight global climate change. Every city department has staff and internal resources to meet the outcomes of our GreenPrint plan. These departmental efforts are coordinated by three city staff and the resources they need to make a difference. Altogether, the budget I am proposing includes more than $1.8 million for environmental and energy conservation initiatives, including:
- $275,000 to plant 1,000 more trees through the residential City Trees program and another 500-1,000 trees to reforest city-owned property
- $100,000 for another year of community-based green micro-grants
- $300,000 for a new pilot program that encourages residents to recycle organic food waste
- $180,000 to continue replacing streets lights with energy-efficient LED lights
- $400,000 to implement the recommendations of our energy audit to reduce energy use and reduce CO2 emissions 12 percent by 2012
I hope that as the Council reviews this budget, you will see it is a common sense budget that puts public safety first, focuses on basic services and invests in jobs, housing and other strategies that create ladders of opportunity in our city. We do this by making Minneapolis a safe place to call home, by growing an economy that works for everyone, and by investing in basic infrastructure for the common good.
With this budget we are showing that Minneapolis is a city that works, not only during an emergency, but every day of the year.
Last updated Sep. 27, 2011