Today, after several months of work, I released my budget for the City of Minneapolis for 2017: I am investing in public safety, accommodating the great growth of our city, equity, and the fundamentals of good government. Now the City Council gets to look over the budget in detail, and votes to approve it in December. I look forward to cooperating and working with them closely on that process.
Writing the City’s budget is my favorite part of this job. Some people spend their summer at the lake or a cabin, some people play ultimate or softball or midnight basketball: but in my summer, there is little I look forward to more than sitting in conference rooms poring over the minutiae of sprawling spreadsheets.
#budgetnerd. #greeneyeshade. I own it. 100%.
At the end of the day, after all the spreadsheets, it turns out that meeting the three fundamental needs of public safety, growth, and good government in the 21st century is increasingly one and the same thing.
These are just some of the highlights of my proposed budget for 2017:
- Improving public safety with nearly $1 million for downstream, community-based strategies, including: an often-requested mental-health co-responder pilot program with three new police officers working with mental-health professionals; and resources for community to develop collaborative strategies in two locations with high levels of youth violence.
- $14.5 million for affordable-housing development to help everyone afford to live in Minneapolis.
- More support for body cameras: police officers are now wearing them Downtown and in North Minneapolis, and by mid-October they will be in every corner of our city. MPD is now one of the largest police departments in the country to have body cameras on officers.
- Building trust between community members and police officers by adding 12 new officers for community policing, a pillar of 21st-century policing.
- Support for the Trans* Equity Summit, and for accelerating gender-inclusive bathrooms in City-owned buildings.
- 5 additional full-time sworn firefighters, raising the authorized strength of firefighters for the first time in many years.
- Support for outreach and education about our new Earned Sick and Safe Time ordinance, which means that workers in Minneapolis will no longer have to choose between getting paid and getting well.
- More than $1 million annually for a new, ongoing Community Service Officer class in the Police Department. The CSO program has proven to be an effective pathway for people of color to become police officers, and our department must look like the city we serve.
- Investments to help small businesses, including a full-time position — one person, with one email and one phone number — who will make it easier for smaller businesses and entrepreneurs to navigate City systems, get up and running, and prosper.
- Targeted investments for youth and people with disabilities in the East African community.
- Support for my “Talking Is Teaching” initiative to close the “Word Gap” and help stop racial disparities in small children before they ever arise.
- More resources for the fundamentals like Animal Care and Control, fairly assessing real estate, training and diverse career pathways for City employees, enhancing sustainability, and maximizing our return on big events like the Super Bowl, Final Four, and the X Games.
(You can read a summary of my budget and how we pay for it, read the full text of my budget speech, or watch the speech. In future posts, I’ll discuss all these investments and questions in more detail.)
The investments I make in public safety — which represent more than 70 percent of all the new ongoing investments that I propose for next year — build on the great work we have been doing, surely and sometimes quietly, over the past several years: getting body cameras on police officers; accelerated procedural-justice and crisis-intervention training for all officers; an Early Intervention System; implicit-bias training; enhancing and measuring community policing; more pathways for people of color to choose public-safety careers; an innovative municipal criminal-justice agenda to divert low-level and first-time offenders when possible; restorative justice; youth violence prevention; and more.
I make these investments because we are going to have a police department. What we get to have, however, is a 21st-century police department that is rooted in 21st-century policing, built on a foundation of trust, and dedicated to transforming police–community relations.
We have worked very hard for the problems that are accompanying growth in our city, and we should take them as a sign of success. If I got in a time machine today and traveled back to the depths of the last recession in 2009 and explained to people that in 2016, some of the challenges we’re facing are traffic delays caused by so much construction in downtown Minneapolis, and keeping up with restaurant inspections because there is a restaurant boom, they would have been ecstatic. But still, they are problems, and in my budget, I invest in solving them.
I ran for mayor on a pledge to tackle the many racial disparities that threaten to hold our city back from its greatest future, and every day since I’ve had the honor of serving as Mayor, I’ve worked on it. In the previous two years, we’ve made significant investments in equity that are slowly but surely transforming City government, and I propose more of them for next year. I am proud that increasingly, we are building equity into the very DNA of our work as a city.
How we pay for it
Earlier this year, the City Council, the Park Board, and I passed a landmark agreement to restore and enhance neighborhood parks and City streets for the next 20 years. When the cost of that agreement was added onto the natural growth of the cost of current services, we anticipated a property-tax increase of 4.9 percent for next year.
What we did not expect was that the State would not enact into law a tax bill with the increase in Local Government Aid that we anticipated.
Most, if not all, of the difference between the anticipated 4.9 percent property-tax increase and the proposed 5.5 percent increase could be made up by the additional Local Government Aid that we anticipated but which did not materialize. If the Legislature passes a corrected tax bill with the increase that Governor Dayton can sign later this year, I recommend that we use it to cut the proposed 2017 tax increase back to the 4.9 percent increase that we originally anticipated.
I also took a hard look at our budget and am proposing $2.7 million in strategic, significant cuts. These cuts allow for some of the significant investments in public safety that I am proposing.
Three questions, one answer
I have often spoken about the three questions on the white board in my office that I ask myself every day: How does this make the city run well? How does this move the dial on growing the city? How does this move the dial on equity?
These are good questions and I continue to ask them — and increasingly, we are behaving in the City of Minneapolis as if those three questions on my white board are just one. The budget I’ve proposed shows that more and more, all three of them can be answered with the same investments in good government, growth, and public safety.
I look forward to a great conversation this fall about next year’s budget, and about our goals, priorities, and direction as we move forward together as a city and a people.