Minneapolis rec centers will close for a week, park police will be able to treat people who overdose on opioids and more teens will have jobs through a Park Board program.
Those are goals that Park Board interim Superintendent Mary Merrill outlined in her $120.1 million budget proposal for next year.
Merrill presented her recommended budget, which also seeks a 5.7 percent hike in property taxes, at Wednesday night’s board meeting.
In it, Merrill highlighted the need to reinvest in youth programming by hiring 30 more teens through the Teen Teamworks program, which will get a $100,000 bump from the proposed property tax levy.
“We’ve heard loud and clear from commissioners, community members, city leaders and state legislators that our city has a critical need for enhanced youth programs and services, and youth violence prevention strategies,” she said in a statement.
Proposed property tax
In September, the city’s Board of Estimate and Taxation approved raising the ceiling on the Park Board’s property levy, approving a 5.7 percent or $3.5 million increase over this year. (Property taxes cover 74 percent of the Park Board’s general fund.)
That could cost the owner of a $249,000 house, the city’s median value, about $17 annually.
The new minimum wage of $15 in Minneapolis and the reclassification of jobs account for part of the 5.3 percent that will maintain the status quo. The remainder will be for youth services: $100,000 will go toward hiring more Teen Teamwork members and $150,000 for hiring people to implement the full-service community schools concept.
Also known as wraparound schools, they’re intended to be go-to places for students, families and communities to find support.
Merrill also suggested closing all 47 recreation centers for maintenance for five weekdays in late August before Minneapolis Public Schools start class.
This is usually the lowest attendance for Rec Plus, the before- and after-school child care for those in kindergarten through sixth grade. Outside rec activities will not be affected.
Naloxone on hand
With the opioid epidemic hitting parts of Minneapolis hard, Merrill wants park police to be able to save those overdosing on painkillers or heroin.
The budget proposal includes teaching all licensed park police officers to deploy the lifesaving drug called naloxone.
Minneapolis police officers now carry the drug, but in the past the idea was met with hesitation because firefighters and paramedics are usually first to an overdose scene.
The budget proposal also includes hiring an intergovernmental relations employee — a position that has raised concern from a couple of board members. It’s now a contract position, but that is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Next year’s recommended budget includes shifting that contract money to a full-time salaried employee.
Money is also being set aside to conduct a citywide survey to gather opinions on the board and department’s “strengths and weaknesses” and begin thinking about the next comprehensive plan.
The public can comment on the proposed budget during the Nov. 7, Nov. 14 and Nov. 28 Park Board meetings and at the public hearing at City Hall on Dec 5.