Rybak Pitches 2013 Budget, Aims to Boost Police Funding

Rybak Pitches 2013 Budget, Aims to Boost Police Funding

The mayor also called for a 1.7 percent hike in the city’s property tax levy, although he said that most Minneapolis homeowners are not expected to experience an increase in their city property taxes.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak on Wednesday delivered his 2013 budget address, in which he proposed raising the property-tax levy by 1.7 percent, cutting overall spending but boosting funding to the police and fire departments, and restructuring the city’s regulatory services department.

The mayor pointed to the recently passed legislation for a new Vikings stadium, saying that the deal allows the city to direct less property tax money to maintaining the Target Center. That shift results in $5 million in relief for property taxpayers, and without that deal, the tax levy would have needed to be raised roughly twice as much, Rybak said.

The mayor said that because commercial properties are expected to shoulder more of the overall property-tax burden in 2013, 70 percent of Minneapolis homeowners are expected to see no change—or even experience a decrease—in their property taxes.

Rybak’s proposed 2013 budget includes $1.09 billion in total spending, down about 3.7 percent from 2012, according to information on the city’s website. During his budget address, Rybak acknowledged that there are “real-life impacts to the decade of sustained cuts that we have made.” For example, there are now 12 percent fewer full-time city positions than there were a decade ago, he said.

The budget, however, calls for more spending on the police and fire departments. Rybak plans to increase the police department budget by $2.5 million in 2013 in order to add about 10 new officers. Fire department funding, meanwhile, would increase by $1.1 million.

The proposed budget also calls for an overhaul of the city’s regulatory services department. The restructuring is meant to cut administrative costs and better serve businesses, Rybak said. The parts of the department that currently work with businesses for licensing and other matters would be shifted to the Department of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) in order to “streamline the way businesses interact with the city,” the mayor said.

The move would eliminate a “a top tier of management” and save the city between $300,000 and $400,000 in the first year alone, Rybak said. The department restructuring would be “the most significant internal restructuring of city services since 2002, when we formed CPED,” he added.

The Minneapolis City Council will now review and may modify Rybak’s proposal before adopting its official 2013 budget.

A transcript of Rybak’s budget address can be viewed here.

Rybak’s speech was delivered one day after St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman proposed his 2013 budget.

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