‘Change isn’t cheap’ says Mayor Frey

Proposed budget sets aside $16 million to implement dual consent decrees, $217 million for police department

On Aug. 15, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey presented his proposed 2024 budget to the city council for consideration. The formal process for what many consider the year’s most important council decision has begun, with final budget approval expected on Dec. 5. 
Saying that the proposal is “largely geared toward following through on commitments that have already been made,” the mayor highlighted several specific initiatives in his address to the council. 
If approved, the mayor noted that the budget would set aside new funding to support the council legislative department, provide $720,000 for future planning and improvements to George Floyd Square, and increase funding to neighborhood organizations by $420,000 bringing the base funding to $15,000 a year for each neighborhood (from $10,000). He also called attention to a dedicated $10 million a year for a new climate legacy fund, $3 million for the behavior crisis response, $5 million annually for public housing, $3 million for opioid response, $2.7 million for parkway repairs, and an added $1 million to increase shelter capacity for those experiencing homelessness.
“If we want change in our police department, we need to recognize that change isn’t cheap,” said Frey, who also highlighted his proposed increase in the police department budget from $205 million to $217 million.
“I think it is important we, as a community, recognize that in this year’s budget, we will be spending over $16 million in the first year of implementing the dual consent decree,” said Ward 12 Council candidate, Aurin Chowdhury. “This upcoming budget illustrates how deeply we need police reform and a constellation of public safety tools.” 
The total amount needed to cover these and other city expenses is $1.8 billion, an 8.3% increase from the current budget of $1.66 billion. The funds will come from $1.81 billion in revenues, which is a 15% increase from last year and includes an increase in state local government aid, franchise fee increases. It also includes a 6.2% increase in the property tax levy, which will raise the total amount collected by $27.6 million in 2024. 
“The fact that the budget does not increase the property tax levy more than was promised is a testament to our city’s sound fiscal management,” said Ward 12 city council candidate Luther Rainheim. “We should continue to keep the property tax levy increases, a regressive tax that disproportionately impacts low-income homeowners, as low as possible.” 
Other ward candidates did not respond to the request for comments for this article.
The property tax increase of 6.2% is expected to result in a $150-160 increase in property taxes for the median priced single-family home. Such a home, valued of $331,000, would have city-only property taxes of about $1,952 that, according to the city, would be divided so that $21 was for the public housing, $56 to cover pensions costs, $134 for public works, $154 for the fire department, $260 for capital improvements and debts, $342 for parks, $409 for the police department and $576 for all other city services. 
“It is very important to me that the community is part of and is engaged in the budget process,” said Ward 11 Council member Emily Koski, who chairs the city’s budget committee. Koski held meetings earlier in the year focused on budget priorities, and said that she used them to create budget priorities that she shared with the mayor when he was developing his proposal.
“At a high-level, I am grateful to see significant investment in our shared priorities of public services and infrastructure, public safety, and affordable housing,” said Koski. 
$3 million for public housing
One aspect of the budget that has found support is increased funding for public housing. 
“Six months ago there was a lot of lip service for public housing but just a handful of elected officials who were willing to make the commitment to funding,” said Ward 2 City Council member Robin Wonsley. “Resident organizing and bold advocacy for a fully funded public housing levy is what made this happen. This is a good start, and we need to keep organizing and advocating for full funding.”
The Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) must approve a maximum city levy amount prior to the city council approving any budget.  The BET chair, Samantha Pree-Stinson, advocated for the need for a public housing levy as a candidate and since taking office in 2022. In May, she presided over a meeting of the BET where MPHA made their request for a levy, followed by time for resident testimony.
“Residents showed up and told us what they needed. They told us they need a fully funded levy. We have the responsibility to take these residents’ and their needs seriously. The proposed $5 million in ongoing funding is a big win by residents, for residents,” said Pree-Stinson. “I will bring the proposal for a fully funded levy to the Sept. 20 meeting of the BET and look forward to seeing residents and supporters there.”
“The 2024 budget signals that community voices are powerful and that an active council member who organizes and prioritizes the needs of their ward can be a recipe for an effective budget,” said Chowdhury, who also is a current policy aide for the 9th ward. 
“I am proud to see that the work Council Member Jason Chavez and I have done in the Ward 9 office to advocate for a human-centered approach to address homelessness has led to an additional $1 million in shelter services. This was only made possible by continued community advocacy and hopefully will lead us to an Avivo Village Tiny Homes on the Southside,” said Chowdhury. “Another win for community members is the $10 million in the Climate Legacy Initiative fund. Council member Chughtai and council member Goodman did a tremendous job with the community on this, and I hope to continue this work to increase funding by leveraging the relationships I have across all levels of government.”
“The investments that I’m particularly pleased to see included here are the historic investments in affordable housing and renter protections, the creation of a new opioid crisis mobile response unit, expanding behavioral crisis response unit funding, critical investments in parkways and other Park Board basic infrastructure, increase in the basic funding formula for neighborhood associations, and an increase in funding for violence prevention through the Office of Community Safety,” said Ranheim.
What’s next
 The budget will next go to the council’s budget committee for review and hearings. There will be 13 meetings covering department level budgets that will be televised, available online and open to the public in the city hall council chambers. There will be three public hearings where any member of the public may address the council.  They are scheduled for Oct. 25, Nov. 1, and Dec. 5. Two meetings, called budget “mark-up” meetings will be held (Nov. 30 and Dec. 1) where council members may propose and vote on budget amendments.
“There are a lot of great things in this budget that put Minneapolis further on the path to recovery after several challenging years,” said Ranheim. “Minneapolis is coming back and this budget reflects our shared vision for a city that supports all 430,000 of its residents.”
“In the coming weeks, I will be diving deeper into the mayor’s 2024 recommended budget and levy to ensure that is meets my budget priorities, and the city of Minneapolis’s budget priorities,” said Koski. “I welcome any feedback from my neighbors, communities, neighborhood organizations, and more. I welcome feedback at any of my upcoming Ward 11 monthly meetings, or via call or email, and the sooner the better so I have the feedback well in advance of the budget committee’s mark-up meetings.”


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