At a glance: 2016 city budget

Roxxanne O'Brien, a Bush Foundation fellow, addresses the City Council during the 2016 city budget hearing Wednesday night. Credit: Photo by Eric Best

The roughly $1.22 billion 2016 budget passed by the City Council Wednesday night includes a 3.4 percent increase in the overall property tax levy.

Despite the increase, more than half of the city’s taxpayers will see a decrease in the city portion of their property tax bills, according to the mayor’s office. Overall, an average Minneapolis property tax bill in 2016 will break down as follows: 40 percent for the City of Minneapolis, 29 percent for Hennepin County, 26 percent for the school district and the rest for other taxing districts. 

After facing blistering comments from roughly 60 people at a marathon public hearing before the Council voted on the budget, Mayor Betsy Hodges said her proposed budget includes “millions of dollars for equity.”

Speakers criticized Hodges for supporting a proposal to redirect $605,000 for improvements to the 4th Precinct — an amendment that was withdrawn and not voted on by the Council.

“It is valuable that people came out tonight and made their voices heard. The actions that were taken here tonight, and were not taken here tonight, reflect that we value that we hear from the community,” Hodges said. “… The work that went into this budget — the countless hours spent with community, City staff, and Council Members — is evidence that every day I am doing the work to ensure that in Minneapolis, your race and your zip code do not determine your life outcome. Day after day, week after week, month after month—we are doing the hard work necessary not just to change things, but to transform them.”

The biggest slice of the city’s budget pie goes to the Public Works Department, which accounts for about 28 percent of the budget, followed by the Police Department, which makes up about 13 percent of the budget.

The Council unanimously passed the budget after considering several last-minute amendments, including one redirecting $105,000 from a LED lighting initiative and $200,000 from the police department’s budget to fund implicit bias and procedural justice training for all officers in 2016. The funding will also be used to accelerate officer training in crisis intervention.

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Here is a quick overview of budget highlights:

Public safety

The Minneapolis Police Department’s budget is approximately $157.7 million, which includes funding for the new police body camera program and two new officers focused on youth outreach downtown — bringing the authorized force total to 862 sworn officers.

The police department’s budget also includes $435,262 for two additional crime analysts and two new forensic scientists for the crime lab to help with tracking guns, and $124,0000 for an automated software system for an early intervention system designed to weed out problem officers.

It also includes the aforementioned $305,000 for additional police training in implicit bias, procedural justice and crisis intervention.

The fire department’s budget includes $200,000 in funding for programs focused on recruiting youth and high school students from diverse backgrounds into training for jobs as EMTs and firefighters.

Hodges’ budget also triples the funding for Restorative Justice programs that have livability crime offenders meet with victims of their crimes to understand the impact of their actions.

 

Public Works 

One of the big ticket items in the 2016 city budget is $10 million for the 10th Avenue bridge rehabilitation project.

The Public Works Department is seeking $42 million to rehab the bridge — a four-lane bridge parallel to the I-35W bridge. In addition to city funds, the city is seeking state and federal funds for the project.

The open-spandrel arch bridge built in 1929 has deteriorated concrete areas that need repairs.

The budget also includes $3 million for a new planter-protected bikeway downtown along 3rd Avenue — a proposal that drew criticism from a couple of speakers at Wednesday’s budget hearing who said they received no notice about the project.

 

Housing

Next year’s budget includes more than $13 million for affordable housing, including $1 million targeted toward increasing housing options for families.

The Council also approved a budget amendment authored by City Council Member Lisa Goodman (Ward 7) that adds an additional $1.5 million to the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund to bring it to $10 million for 2016.

There’s also funding to hire four new construction and six housing inspectors.

 

Children, youth

The budget has earmarked $394,000 to support the work of the mayor’s Cradle to K initiative, including funding for community education about Autism in the East African community, lead testing in homes and the Talking=Teaching project focused on tackling the word gap among the city’s children.

The city’s Urban Scholars program, which offers internships for college students of color, has $92,000 in new funding.

 

Jobs

The BUILD Leaders program, which is targeted to men of color 18-24, has secured $330,000. The jobs program matches participants with mentors.

The budget also pledges $350,000 for TechHire scholarships for women and people of color who are training for high-tech jobs.

 

Environment

The budget includes ongoing funding for the city’s Clean Energy Partnership, a collaboration among the city, Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy that is focused on meeting the city’s goals to decrease carbon emissions.

The city’s Zero Waste programs have also received a $50,000 boost for more community engagement work.