Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges said Friday the city should commit an additional $30 million for 10 years to close projected funding shortfalls for roads and parks — and raise taxes to pay for it.
She released a basic outline of the $300 million plan with City Council Member John Quincy on Friday. It would mean boosting the city’s levy — the dollar amount it collects in taxes — 1.4 percent more per year than the previously forecast average of 3.5 percent.
The proposal comes days after Hodges vetoed another plan to fund needed park improvements over 20 years by largely relying on funding sources within the city’s existing budget, including pension savings. Hodges said those sources are too unpredictable for the long-term commitment.
“The mayor’s proposal with Council Member Quincy proposes raising the levy to reinvest in parks and streets — that that is the real practical source of funding that the city has identified,” said David Prestwood, Hodges’ spokesman.
In a statement, the mayor emphasized the need to tackle both problems.
“Earlier generations of city leaders built this great city on a vision that included great parks and safe streets,” Hodges said. “It is our duty to not allow their investments to crumble.”
The shortfall for funding roads and neighborhood parks has become a growing concern at City Hall, particularly since the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board wants to ask voters to decide on a 5 percent levy increase this fall. The gap in road funding is estimated to be $30 million a year, while the shortfall for neighborhood park facilities is about $15 million.
The Hodges plan would allocate an additional $10 million for parks and $20 million for roads over 10 years. The Park Board’s referendum plan, meanwhile, seeks $15 million per year over 20 years.
Council President Barb Johnson, who crafted the proposal vetoed by Hodges, met with Hodges on Thursday to discuss that plan.
“She was going to get back to us,” Johnson said. “Little did we know that she had a proposal that she was sitting on, I guess.”
Johnson has said she is wary of a large tax increase to pay for the park shortfall. “I think we’ve got to scrub our numbers at the city and find out what kind of resources we have,” Johnson said.
Park Board President Liz Wielinski said she was looking forward to seeing Hodges’ proposal.