To pay for youth and environmental services next year, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will have to raise some fees and reduce services in every division, Superintendent Al Bangoura said Wednesday night.
Presenting the Park Board’s 2020 budget — his first as superintendent — during the regular meeting of Park Board commissioners, Bangoura said the $126.1 million plan reflects “constraints of the maximum tax levy” set by the city Board of Estimate and Taxation last month.
The Park Board had requested a property tax increase greater than what Mayor Jacob Frey proposed in the summer.
During his presentation, Bangoura said that proposed levy “really supported the current service level, but no additional funds for youth or the environment were part of that budget.”
Bangoura and some Park Board commissioners have made boosting funding for youth programming one of their main priorities this year, saying they have a $2 million gap in funding for those services. Under the new budget, $15.3 million would go toward youth programming, 17% of the Park Board’s general fund, according to budget documents.
Bangoura proposed hiring 60 youths for employment programs; creating two “ideation spaces” focused on arts and technology; providing free after-school programs for up to 80 students in four park sites; and forming a youth advisory council.
“We have the staff, we have the buildings, we have the skills, we have the people to do the work,” Bangoura said. “We’re committed to prove that work.”
He proposed eliminating a handful of positions, including a financial and performance analyst, design project manager and engineering project manager. Some select programming and activities, including movie and music series and wading pools at Victory and Lyndale school parks, would also see service reductions.
The Park Board’s police department budget remained static, said finance diretor Julie Wiseman.
The recommended budget devotes almost $400,000 to initiatives to reduce the Park Board’s carbon footprint and manage water resources. It also seeks to improve service levels for snow removal, mowing and weeding.
The Park Board would increase fees for some services, such as rental fees at recreation centers, and include fees for new services launching next year.
“We’re always looking at different ways to fund or diversify revenue,” Bangoura said.
Bangoura also pointed out the need to reevaluate the Park Board’s golf programs, which lost an average of $383,000 over the past 10 years and are projected to lose $400,000 next year, Wiseman said.
The 5.7% property tax increase would result in a $17 annual tax increase for the owner of a median value, $266,000 home, according to a news release.
The Park Board will hold sessions for public comment Nov. 6 and Nov. 20. Commissioners will hold a public hearing and approve the final budget Dec. 11.