Minneapolis' elected officials will attempt to negotiate two years' worth of budgets at one time.

When he delivered his budget address Monday morning, Mayor Jacob Frey outlined spending proposals for both 2023 and 2024.

"We're moving toward a biennial budget," Frey said.

That change could usher in a dramatic shift in how Minneapolis officials review the city budget, which has drawn increasing scrutiny in recent years amid a debate over how to transform public safety in response to George Floyd's murder. While state government and some other cities use similar processes, this will be the first time Minneapolis officials attempt to negotiate two years of budgets at once.

The city nearly changed to biennial budgeting in 2019. Council Member Linea Palmisano, now the council's vice president, pitched a plan to change the City Charter to specify that city leaders would pass a budget every two years, with the option to amend it in between, if necessary.

"In our budgeting processes, we only really talk about, fight about, argue about, do amendments for change items," or programs that are getting funding increases or decreases, Palmisano said. Changing to biennial budgeting "would allow us more space and time to really take a look … at the things that we're doing day to day, that we want to advance in a different way."

When the change came up for final approval at the City Council, it fell two votes shy. During that public meeting, Cam Gordon, then a council member, called the change "unnecessary" and "undemocratic," saying it should go before voters.

Lisa Bender, then council president, questioned whether it could further entrench inequities in the city. "There are extraordinary institutional barriers to deep reform and, while a biennial budget may help us solve those and overcome those, it actually also may reinforce them in other ways," she said in the meeting.

If all goes as planned, Frey and the City Council will work this year to adopt spending plans for 2023 and 2024. Next year, Frey will still deliver a budget address and the city will still hold public meetings to comply with requirements in the charter and state law — but their discussions will focus on how to improve the 2024 budget rather than creating a whole new spending plan for the year.

Supporters of the change hope it will give the city's financial staff more time to take a critical look at the other portions of the budget that are less likely to garner attention and provide more transparency to the public.

"For taxpayers, it takes things out of handshake agreements and puts them on paper," said City Budget Director Amelia Cruver.

They also hope the change will give elected leaders more time to evaluate the effectiveness of pilot programs — including those that aim to send civilians to some calls now handled by police — and decide how to build them up in the most fiscally responsible manner.

"As we move out of this pandemic, as we move out of the civil unrest that occurred, having a more deeper dive ... this is what we need to be doing to make sure that we are spending our resources wisely," said Emily Koski, chair of the council's Budget Committee.