Mayor Rybak’s proposed 2011 budget focuses on police, potholes and paychecks
In his annual budget address Aug. 16, Mayor Rybak proposed a 2011 City budget that funds the basics of police, potholes and paychecks, and meets the challenges posed by rising pension obligations, especially two closed pension funds. Mayor Rybak also identified investing in transit-oriented development, downtown planning and a new downtown park, and a new regional economic development entity as opportunities to grow the City’s tax base.
Mayor Rybak hailed the City’s sound financial management over the last nine years — paying down $130 million in debt, reducing fixed costs, restoring the City’s AAA bond rating and balancing budgets five years out — as the key to Minneapolis’ ability to provide vital, core services to residents. These services are:
- Keeping people safe. Public safety has been, and remains Mayor Rybak’s top funding priority, and this year is no exception. Public safety — defined as police, fire, 911 and the criminal division of the City Attorney’s office — will consume 55% of general-fund spending in 2011, and there will be no layoffs to police or firefighters next year.
- Improving streets. Mayor Rybak recognized that streets have suffered as the City has invested necessary resources into public safety in recent years. Mayor Rybak proposed investing $9 million more a year over five years, beginning in 2011, to dramatically accelerate improvements on a wide range of City-maintained streets, including significant improvements to residential streets.
- Growing the economy. Mayor Rybak pledged not to cut one dollar from the City’s job-creation and business-support efforts. He pointed out that Minneapolis has weathered the recession better than other cities, and praised the City’s economic-development efforts for their role in helping mitigate the effects of the recession here. Nearly 4,600 more Minneapolis residents were employed in June 2010 than were employed one year prior, and Minneapolis’ unemployment rate is now routinely lower than the region’s and state’s unemployment rates.
Mayor Rybak also recognized that two closed pension funds will continue to be a financial challenge for the City. Of the $17.7 million more that the City must pay in 2011 to meet pension obligations, nearly 90 percent must go to two closed pension funds: the Minneapolis Police Relief Association and the Minneapolis Fire Relief Association. Were it not for the $17.7 million jump in pension obligations, the City would be able to lower property taxes by 0.1 percent next year. However, obligations to pensions — and in particular, the closed pensions — instead require a 6.5 percent pension levy for 2011.
You can view the Mayor’s recommended budget speech in its entirety on Minneapolis City Channel 14 through mid-September on Mondays at 2 p.m., Wednesdays at 5 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at 9 p.m. The speech will also be re-broadcast on Minneapolis Meeting Channel 79 on Wednesday, Aug. 18 at 2 p.m., Friday, Aug. 20 at 1 p.m., and on Sunday, Aug. 22 at 1 p.m. Minneapolis Meeting Channel 79 will continue to re-broadcast the speech on Saturdays at noon through mid-September.
For more information visit the 2011 Recommended Budget site.
Published Aug. 17, 2010