Minneapolis’ new 2009 budget focuses on public safety and infrastructure

Mayor R.T. Rybak and the Minneapolis City Council have approved a new budget for 2009 that makes public safety and infrastructure top priorities, despite significant cuts in state funding. The new budget, which was unanimously approved March 12, includes cuts to every City department. While every effort was made to reduce job losses, the magnitude of the needed cuts means that staff reductions were unavoidable. In the revised budget, 59 city staff positions were eliminated. However, no jobs were eliminated in the police or fire departments, and the City's accelerated investment in infrastructure will continue.

The City was forced to revise its budget because Governor Tim Pawlenty cut $13.1 million in funding to Minneapolis at the end of 2008 and has proposed another $35 million in permanent cuts through 2010.

"We accomplished this enormous task because we paid off millions of dollars in debt, reformed and restructured City government finances, and delivered City services more efficiently," said Mayor Rybak. "Our wise fiscal management, combined with one-time economic recovery dollars from the federal government allows us to preserve our commitment to public safety. If not for that strong long term fiscal stewardship by the City of Minneapolis, the problems we face today would have been much worse."

If allocated equally across the city, the Governor’s proposed cuts to Minneapolis for this year would have led to the elimination of 161 jobs, including 57 sworn officer positions and 19 civilian positions in the police department and 27 firefighter positions. The revised budget avoided those deep cuts by: using $7.6 million freed up by paying down City debt; focusing cuts on management positions; eliminating some City services; developing new revenue options such as a proposed new street light fee that will help pay for maintenance and repair of street lights; and the federal stimulus package which will pay for 76 positions in the police department, including 57 sworn officer positions which would have otherwise been cut.

While the 2009 budget is now approved, City leaders are already working to prepare a budget for 2010 that will include even more significant cuts. Both the State’s finances and the struggling economy will have continued negative impacts on the City budget.

To address the challenges of the 2010 budget, Mayor Rybak has said that he will be calling on the State Legislature to help by limiting the amount of State cuts to local governments, giving Minneapolis more flexibility in how it can spend its sales tax revenues, and approving badly needed pension reform that will save Minneapolis taxpayers millions of dollars in the coming years that could be spent on providing City services to residents.

For more information on the revised budget, visit the 2009 budget page .

March 13, 2009

Published Mar. 13, 2009