City Council adopts $1.8 billion 2018 budget

Budget comes with a 5.5-percent increase in the property tax levy

The City Council on Wednesday approved Mayor Betsy Hodges’ $1.4 billion budget, focusing city resources on clean energy, housing and public safety.

Council members made a series of last-minute tweaks to the budget, repeatedly dipping into the nearly $1.88 million designated for a redesign of the city’s website to fund other priorities. More than $300,000 was shifted to other objectives, including the Southside Green Zones environmental-justice initiative, a Cedar-Riverside-neighborhood employment program showing early signs of success and an after-school program focused on science and technology.

An amendment offered by council members Andrew Johnson, Linea Palmisano and Alondra Cano shifted $225,000 in fire department funds from a mobile healthcare program and instead put them toward hiring three new firefighters. Another offered by Ward 3 Council Member and Mayor-elect Jacob Frey took $50,000 each from the health and public safety departments to temporarily fund a full-time lead inspector position.

The 2018 budget is a 6.2-percent increase ($82.5 million) over the 2017 budget of $1.3 billion. It comes with a 5.5-percent increase in the property tax levy, raising the annual property tax bill about $92 on a home at the median market value of $223,000.

The vote to adopt the budget was a unanimous 13-0.

Hodges, who did not attend the meeting, said in a statement, “I’m proud that the City Council has adopted my proposed budget largely intact, and I’m grateful for all of the work in departments across the city to arrive at a structurally sound budget that will help move Minneapolis forward.”

Council members made other adjustments to the mayor’s proposed budget the previous week, parceling out funds designated for late-night downtown traffic control to other priorities, including the hiring of 10 new full-time police officers with the help of a federal matching grant. Hodges proposed to hire eight new community safety liaisons; changes made by council members cut that number in half and used the remaining funds to add two housing inspectors and two positions in the police department to review body camera footage.

Another change added new health inspectors to meet the demands of a growing restaurant and lodging industry. An amendment authored by Council Member Elizabeth Glidden added a full-time position to the Labor Standards Enforcement Division within the Civil Rights Department, which she said was needed to enforce the city’s new safe and sick time and municipal minimum wage ordinances, and also added funding for education and outreach to employers.

During a public comment period before the final vote, the Council heard from a series of speakers who spoke in support of a municipal ID. In response, Cano, joined by Frey and Cam Gordon authored a staff direction to establish a municipal ID work group that will report back to the Council on possible paths forward by March.

Frey framed the issue in terms of the financial and physical safety of undocumented immigrants. Lacking a state-issued ID, they are unable to set up bank accounts. Laborers who are paid in cash then become targets for robbery, he said.

When the vote was taken, Glidden observed that it had been a “remarkably collegial” budget process compared to the occasionally “raucous” debates of years past.

Bender said the Council demonstrated its ability to work together to respond to community concerns.

“I think this is a budget to be very proud of,” she said. “I think it’s a budget that was unanimously adopted, that reflects our commitment — our shared commitment — to affordable housing investments, to job creation, to racial equity and to taking a hard look at how we are supporting community safety, not just through policing but in a holistic way.”