Rybak Delivers Investing in the Future Budget Proposal

Updated: 08/15/2013 3:31 PM KSTP.com By: Jenna Jaynes

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak delivered his final budget proposal in front of the city council on Thursday.

In his speech, “Investing in the Future,” Rybak said he wants to focus his efforts on important future investments.

The budget laid out four broad areas to invest in the future: running the city well, making Minneapolis a safe place to call home, investing in the common ground and growing the city.

As part of his running the city well investment, Rybak said his budget will help fund the replacement of retiring employees during the “silver tsunami:” when more than 40 percent of the workforce will have retired in 10 years. He also announced that his budget will fund Saturday hours for Minneapolis 311.

In trying to keep Minneapolis a safe place to call home, Rybak proposed funding for a new 30-person cadet class in the police department and three new 15-person classes in the fire department, as well as 20 new community service officers.

He also announced funding for police training, expanded early-warning systems and community engagement.

“Every day, Minneapolis police officers take extraordinary actions to protect and serve people of every background in every part of the city,” he said. “However, when one single officer makes even one offensive comment — or behaves far worse, on or off duty — it jeopardizes all that good work. There is no place for racism or discrimination in our Police Department.”

Rybak announced a $16-million increase over five years in the City’s capital budget that will work to improve road and basic infrastructure, as part of the “common ground” investment.

Rybak said he would continue work in modern-streetcar projects along Nicollet and Central Avenues, and along North Washington and West Broadway Avenues.

“We are not going to build modern streetcars because they’re cool or retro," he said. "We want to build them because they’re necessary."

He also announced investments in bike and pedestrian infrastructure, improving air-quality and replacing many park and boulevard trees.

Currently, Rybak has set a goal of 450,000 residents by 2025, and says his budget will continue working toward that. Rybak said he wants to work toward “One Minneapolis,” a place without economic gaps. His budget proposes investing in housing and supporting the Grow North initiative to locate companies and jobs in North Minneapolis.

Rybak said his proposed budget would focus on these investments as well as lead to a 1 percent cut in the City’s property-tax levy.

“The bottom line on property taxes is: In tough times, we asked residents to invest more to keep the city strong. With times getting a little better, we will ask less,” Rybak said.

After a series of meetings, the city council will vote on the budget on December 11.

Read the full speech here.