More than $9 million in frozen Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP) funds will be restored to Minneapolis neighborhoods over the next few years, pending City Council approval.
A council committee voted Monday to restore the funds to 66 neighborhood groups. The City Council froze the money in 2010 in an effort to reduce property taxes by shrinking the Tax Increment Finance (TIF) districts that funded the revitalization program.
“To have these funds released is really exciting,” said Kristel Porter, Cleveland Neighborhood Association executive director. “It gives us a little more longevity.”
When the revitalization program started in 1991, the plan was to capture $404 million in tax increment revenue over 20 years and distribute it to the neighborhoods in two phases — from 1990 to 2000 and from 2001 to 2009.
Neighborhood associations tend to rely on the city for most of their funding. NRP funds have been used for a wide range of projects. In Whittier, for example, they helped build Whittier International Elementary School, and they backed a low-interest loan program for property owners and paid local artists to install their work in vacant storefronts, according to a neighborhood group letter in support of restoring the frozen funds.
The second phase of the money had already been allocated when the council voted to freeze it. Whittier had contracted most of its funds before the freeze but lost access to about $91,000 that it will now get back, said Whittier Alliance board chairwoman Erica Christ.
“It is a lot of money,” she said, but added that it’s not that much compared to “the scale of work that we had been doing with the NRP funds.”
Money will be reallocated between 2017 and 2020, when the consolidated TIF district that funds neighborhood programs expires. Grant amounts range from $1,000 for the Kenwood neighborhood to more than $690,000 for Longfellow.
Though it’s looking like the money will finally come through, it feels precarious, said Melanie Majors, Longfellow Community Council executive director.
“It’s one of those things where you feel really excited about the prospect, but you can’t help remember how it [the freeze] happened in the first place,” she said. “It’s kind of bittersweet.”