This week, my proposed 2012 zero-property-tax budget for the City passed another hurdle, after the City Council’s Ways and Means/Budget Committee, led by Chair Betsy Hodges, recommended it to the full City Council for adoption next Wednesday.
I was grateful that we were able to partner with committee members to make some positive changes to the budget, in part because of some good financial news since I first proposed the budget a few months ago. Because of careful financial management in the Police Department, and because we will receive some more federal dollars than we had conservatively counted on, we are able to restore funding for several important initiatives, including Crime Prevention Specialists in the Police Department who work on the ground with residents of our neighborhoods to increase everyone’s safety, and the nationally-recognized Domestic Abuse Partnership in the City Attorney’s office, which has partnered with nonprofits and service providers to significantly increase the conviction rate in domestic-violence cases.
The committee also took action to ensure the continued success of our Youth Violence Prevention initiative, which has dramatically lowered youth violence, and move forward the One Minneapolis partnership that I proposed to eliminate the employment gaps in our city between whites and people of color, especially African Americans.
I thank the Ways and Means/Budget Committee for making these important changes, which I was pleased to support.
In recent weeks, I’ve continued to host neighborhood budget forums, at which I have been joined recently by Council Members Elizabeth Glidden, John Quincy and Meg Tuthill. At these forums, neighbors have told us several things:
- They’re pleased that we are not raising property taxes next year but feel that property taxes are still too high — and I strongly agree.
- Many are worried that they are still seeing their property taxes go up, primarily because of the Legislature’s elimination this year of the Market Value Homestead Credit.
- They’re glad that crime is way down and want it to go even lower.
- They’re concerned about the condition of our streets and relieved to hear that we’re planning another wave of major new investment to improve our infrastructure.
- Above all, they’re still worried about the state of the economy and want all levels of government to focus on creating jobs and rebuilding prosperity that benefits everyone, not just a few.
Every one of these needs and concerns is critically important. It can be tough to balance them all, but the budget that I proposed attempts to do that — with no tax increase, a significant five-year investment in our infrastructure, ongoing strong support for public safety and a focus on creating jobs and growing our economy.
I’m very grateful for the active partnership with the City Council in moving these priorities forward. As we move toward final budget adoption next Wednesday, December 14, please contact your Council Member and me to share your ideas and concerns.
The great thing about local government is that it’s where the rubber meets the road, where we work to meet people’s basic concerns about jobs, homes, safety, streets and quality of life. Unlike other levels of government, we can’t pass problems down onto anyone else — and at the City of Minneapolis, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
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