Investing in the future

Today I released my final proposed budget for the City of Minneapolis for the coming year, but I want to be clear: this is not a 2014 budget. This is a budget that invests next year in efforts that will pay off for years and decades, in:

  • A new generation of police and firefighters who reflect the face of a diverse city.
  • Repaved streets and roads that will last for decades.
  • Investments in modern streetcar lines, bikes and pedestrian improvements so that just a few years from now, people can live well in Minneapolis without depending on a car.
  • Long-term, green strategies to reforest our city and clean our air.
  • New resources to invest in growing businesses along our commercial streets in our fast-growing city, and to continue the success of the Midtown Global Market.

Running the city well, making Minneapolis a safe place to call home, investing in the common ground of our environment and our infrastructure, and growing the city. This is what investing in the future looks like.

And my budget delivers all these investments and more with a cut of 1 percent in the City’s property-tax levy. And that 1-percent property-tax cut is actually 3.8 percent below the growth in the cost of maintaining current City services, before making any new investments.

The bottom line on property taxes is this: In tough times, we asked residents to invest more to keep the city strong. With times getting a little better, we will ask less.

We can make these investments in the future while cutting property taxes in 2014 for three reasons: 

  • Earlier this year, Governor Mark Dayton and the Legislature restored some of the decade-long cuts to Minneapolis’ Local Government Aid, which provides us with $10 million more in 2014 than in 2013. I’m very grateful to Governor Mark Dayton and the Legislature for passing the first honestly-balanced State budget in more than a decade and understanding how tough the last decade has been on homeowners.
  • The City Council and I created a Property Tax Relief Fund with money that we saved in 2012.
  • Thanks to the stadium legislation, revenues from sales and hospitality taxes that the City can now use for economic development are growing twice as fast as estimated in our recovering economy.

These positive developments for our homeowners come on the heels of tough choices that City leaders have taken over the past decade to restore the City’s fiscal health, by watching spending, paying down $350 million in debt, reforming closed pensions that were draining taxpayers, restructuring City government, and delivering $5 million annually in property-tax relief with the 2012 stadium deal. Had we not made those tough choices, property taxes would be 35 percent higher than they are. And now we can lower them a little more.

You can read more about my budget here, and the text of my speech here. In the meantime, here are a few more of the investments in our future that I’m excited about: 

  • I’m proposing to expand the hours of one of the City’s most popular and effective services. Next year, Minneapolis 311 will now be open on Saturdays, with City Council approval.
  • To meet the pressures of pending retirements, and to build a homegrown, public-safety workforce that truly reflects and represents our city, I am proposing a new police cadet class of 30, and three firefighter classes of 15 each. I am also proposing 20 new Community Service Officers in the Police Department.
  • I’m adding resources for new police training, expanded early-warning systems and community engagement. Our officers do great work every day under very difficult circumstances and they deserve our thanks, but that work can be wiped out when a single officer, whether on duty or off duty,  makes one offensive comment or does much worse. There is no place for racism or discrimination in our Police Department.
  • It’s time that America’s #1 biking city also became America’s #1 walking city. That’s why in addition to bike improvements, I’m investing in pedestrian improvements, including beginning to turn 29th Street, the most blighted street in our city, into a great pedestrian walkway from Lake Calhoun to Lyn-Lake and beyond.
  • We must take action to restore our beautiful tree canopy that provides so many environmental benefits but has suffered a series of unprecedented losses.
  • We’re returning the proceeds of the sale of Gaviidae Common downtown to economic development in our neighborhoods.

We stand on broad shoulders in Minneapolis. Today, we join our predecessors whose investments looked down the road — and paved it, too. They built a great city for generations to come, and we’re doing the same.

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