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Hodges responded that public safety budgets involve “big ticket, long-term, structural questions,” and much of the social spending is comparatively small. The affordable housing trust fund, which costs the city about $2 million a year, “makes sure people of all income levels can live in the city of Minneapolis,” she said.
She also helped guide the controversial restructuring of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program and successfully introduced a large-scale development moratorium in Linden Hills in 2012 after a project upset residents.
More than anything else, however, Hodges prides herself on a long fight to reform the city’s pensions, an issue that confronted her soon into her first term. “The way those closed pension funds were set up was one of the most egregious things I’ve seen in government,”she said.
Police and Fire Department retirees administered their own benefits, which were tied to the pay of current employees. In 2008 that meant the city owed $768,000 extra because three police officers worked overtime during the bridge collapse. The city successfully sued the funds after learning that they were overpaying benefits, then went to the Legislature to merge the funds into the state plan — giving the city more time to fund them.
Rybak credits Hodges for taking a political risk, especially for someone looking to run for mayor: “She tackled it. Mastered it. Took massive amount of heat. And her leadership was a very important way that we got there.”
Eric Roper • 612-673-1732