A key Minneapolis City Council panel voted Tuesday to rescind the city's hiring freeze, five years after it was imposed in the midst of the recession.

A total of 304 positions have been eliminated since the freeze was imposed in late 2008. The freeze occurred in phases, starting with a halt to external hires and temporarily affecting internal hires as well.

The council's budget committee approved rescinding the freeze on Tuesday afternoon. It will now go to the full council Friday.

City staff said that the freeze is no longer necessarily, partly because of how many waivers have been requested — 338. Only six have been denied or postponed. Departments are only filling needed positions, they wrote, and many are confused about when to request a waiver.

"The 2008 hiring freeze, intended to help the City respond to unanticipated financial conditions, now appears to be a redundant management tool," city staff wrote in their report.

Based on city budget documents, the number of full-time city employees has dropped from about 4,100 in 2009's budget (excluding independent boards) to 3,671 in 2013. The mayor has proposed adding about 27 new employees next year.

The freeze was implemented after a $13.1 million cut in state aid. State aid was increased by the Legislature this year for the first time in five years. Carol Rogers, with the city's human resources department, told the committee: "I don't foresee — hopefully — any [state aid] cuts in the near future."

"From your mouth to God's ear," responded budget chair and mayor-elect Betsy Hodges.

Eric Roper • 612-673-1732 • @StribRoper