Mpls Mayor Hodges' Budget Proposal Tackles Housing, Energy and Safety

Among the items in the $1.4 billion proposal are several that could impact the business community.

Mpls Mayor Hodges' Budget Proposal Tackles Housing, Energy and Safety
Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges laid out a $1.4 billion city budget on Tuesday that raises the levy by 5.5 percent.
The proposal includes funding for several proposals that affect the business community, including investments in housing, clean energy and public safety.
“Our values form the foundation of our budget, our budget forms the foundation of our actions and our actions get positive results for the people of Minneapolis,” Hodges said in a statement outlining the proposed budget.
Among the big items highlighted by Hodges is a $24 million investment in housing and related programs. Rents throughout the city are rising rapidly and available supply is low, not unlike the rest of the state. Hodges proposes putting $6.5 million into the Affordable Housing Trust Fund and $3.7 million into stabilizing affordable housing that currently exists. Other programs attempt to boost home ownership, build new affordable units and create a new Housing Stability Specialist assigned to tackle the issue, including zoning reform.
“All of these investments in housing are in service to our shared goal: ensuring all of our residents have high-quality housing choices, regardless of race or income,” Hodges said. “These investments get results and change lives.”
Efforts to reduce climate change and its impact got a 60 percent boost to $6 million under the proposed budget. Though details of the spending weren’t included in the outline, it’s intended to improve clean energy efforts, “cleaner” businesses and make business and residential spaces more energy efficient.
The extra money for these efforts are offset, at least partially, by an increase in the fee the city charges public utilities (called franchise fees) by a half percent, which is expected to raised over $2 million in 2018. Minneapolis’ franchise fee for Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy is currently set at 4.5 percent of gross revenues on residential properties and between 3 to 5 percent on other properties.
Notable for businesses, too, is nearly $1 million in funding to beef up public safety downtown. A recent rise in shootings and other crime downtown prompted cries from the business community. Mayor Hodges’ proposed budget would provide $643,000 for improved nighttime officers, $150,000 to tackle gang violence through intervention strategy and $200,000 in “community-driven” public-safety strategies that emulates models in both North Minneapolis and the Phillips neighborhood.
The mayor’s proposed 5.5 percent levy increase also includes money already codified in city ordinance to improve parks and streets. It was part of a 20-year agreement struck last year between the city and the park board.
The budget now goes before the Board of Estimate and Taxation, which will set a maximum levy increase amount. Following that, the city council will debate the budget proposal and draw up a final draft for approval.
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