In a meeting mostly free from discord, the Minneapolis City Council on Wednesday night voted 13-0 to adopt the city’s 2018 budget.
Mayor Betsy Hodges proposed the $1.4 billion spending plan in September and the City Council amended it in a marathon markup session Friday.
The council whittled away at Hodges’ public safety priorities, ditching her plan for nighttime traffic enforcement downtown and cutting in half the number of new police-community liaisons. Instead, the council moved to add 10 new sworn police officers and spend more on health and housing inspectors and body camera video-review positions in the Police Department.
In a series of amendments Wednesday, council members cut $300,000 from the city’s planned $1.875 million website redesign to fund such programs as after-school science and math education, a Southside Greenzone initiative and the Cedar Riverside Opportunity Hub. They also moved $225,000 in the Fire Department budget that had been earmarked for mobile healthcare providers, using it to pay for three new sworn firefighters.
The council also fully funded a third investigator in the Civil Rights Department who will focus on violations of the new minimum wage and sick leave ordinances.
A debate over whether to contribute $125,000 to Greater MSP, the regional economic development group, ended when the council left its funding alone and instead took money from the website redesign and the Health Department budget to pay for a temporary lead inspector.
Hodges did not attend Wednesday’s meeting, but said in a statement she is proud that the City Council kept her proposed budget largely intact.
“As I look back at my time serving the people of Minneapolis — four years as mayor, and eight years on the City Council before that — I do so knowing that I’m leaving the city in excellent financial shape, and on much firmer footing than it was 12 years ago,” Hodges said.
Dozens of residents spoke during a hearing before the council began amending the budget, to ask that the council pass Hodges’ proposed increase to the utility franchise fees everyone pays through their gas and electricity companies. Several speakers asked the council to create a municipal ID for immigrants living in the country illegally.
The franchise fee increase passed, which means the city will collect $2 million it can use for climate and energy initiatives, and the City Council directed staff to look into the possibility of a municipal ID program and report back by March 31.
Property taxes fund about 23 percent of the city’s budget.
According to calculations prepared by the Board of Estimate and Taxation, a home in Minneapolis whose value doesn’t change will see a slight tax break with the proposed 5.5 percent levy increase. The city has issued more than $1 billion in construction permits each of the past five years, and all that new tax base means the levy can go up without causing dramatic increases in property tax bills.
Most home values are rising, however, and owners of a home worth $200,000 that rose in value to $210,000 in 2017 would pay about $20 more in city taxes, a 1.7 percent increase.
The budget adoption is the last major action for the City Council and mayor who have held office for the past four years. Five new council members and a new mayor — Jacob Frey — will take office in January.
Frey’s inauguration will be Jan. 8.