2013 budget moves closer to passage

I’m pleased to report that the 2013 budget I proposed for the City of Minneapolis is nearing final passage, with the full City Council scheduled to vote on it on Wednesday evening. This budget that makes important investments in Minneapolis’ top priorities: improving our roads, our safety and our economy.

It also represents for taxpayers the payoff for 10 years of hard-nosed financial choices we’ve made to pay down debt, hold the line on spending and reform the broken closed-pension system. And with the passage of the stadium bill earlier this year, we’ve removed the burden of Target Center off the backs of property-tax payers.

As a result of all of these choices, about three-quarters of Minneapolis taxpayers will see no increase in their property-tax bill this year, or will even see a decrease.

The most important refinement to the budget that has taken place since I proposed it in August is the reform of the Regulatory Services Department that I promised. After months of hard work, we are proposing to move our Business Licensing, Development Review and Construction Code services to the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development, and our Environmental Health services to the Department of Health and Family Support. We will retain our Housing Investigation, Problem Properties, Animal Control and Traffic Control divisions in Regulatory Services.

If the Council approves this reform as part of the budget, it will make it easier to do business in Minneapolis and help improve residents’ public health. And the savings will be $300,000–400,000 in the first year alone.

I’d particularly like to thank Council Member Betsy Hodges and Council Member Elizabeth Glidden for their hard work in the past several months. Council Member Hodges, who chairs the Council’s Ways and Means/Budget committee, has lead her colleagues and City staff through scores of hours of testimony and hundreds of pages of detailed documents in order to pass a fiscally-responsible and socially-responsive budget. Council Member Glidden chairs the Council’s Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee, and in that role has played a key role in shaping and passing the reform of the Regulatory Services Department. Her deep knowledge of and commitment to improving this important function of City government will lead to better outcomes for our businesses and residents.

This is a good budget for Minneapolis: it continues our tradition of fiscal responsibility and investing in our priorities. Please let your City Council member or me know what you think.

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