Residents rebuke city spending

The city is set to increase property taxes by 4.7 percent next year.

by Andre Eggert

Minneapolis residents filled the City Council chamber, maxed out an overflow room and spilled into the hallways as the council met to vote on next yearâÄôs budget Monday night.

Residents packed the typically quiet chamber, fuming over property tax increases and what they saw as out-of-control city spending.

âÄúItâÄôs not a revenue problem, itâÄôs a spending problem,âÄù Minneapolis resident Mike Spallino said.

Other echoed his sentiment, demanding the city tighten up its budget during the fiscal crisis.

âÄúWe love living in the city but canâÄôt afford it,âÄù said Denver Gillian.

Resident Doug Johnson was less kind with his words. âÄúThe middle class is no longer welcome in this city.âÄù

Nobody came forward to support the budget plan. The City Council approved the budget without changes after more than four hours of public comment.

A few residents spoke out against money being cut from the Neighborhood Revitalization Program to keep property taxes lower. âÄúWeâÄôre tired of taking the crumbs,âÄù said one resident who didnâÄôt support the NRP cuts.

The meeting comes after Mayor R.T. Rybak announced that the proposed property tax levy for the city would be lowered from 6.5 percent to 4.7 percent following a full City Council chamber filled with complaints at the last public meeting.

For a typical house, this cut would result in about $42 in savings, according to the city.

The lowering of property taxes cuts roughly $6 million from the budget, assuming the state delivers the full $87.5 million in local government aid. If the state does not give the promised amount, an additional $22 million in cuts could come from a âÄúPlan BâÄù starting in February.

Among the biggest cuts proposed were $1.4 million from the Minneapolis Public Housing Authority, $1.1 million for Target Center capital projects, and $2 million from the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board.

City workers will take a two-year pay freeze as part of the deal.

Cuts would also be made to future pension obligations, paying down debt on internal service funds and financing the Municipal Building Commission.

Rybak and the council members rarely spoke Monday night. Rybak briefly expressed dismay at the late timing of the Truth in Taxation statement, which detailed next yearâÄôs increases. It arrived the day before the first public hearing.

Barry Hickethier, who ran for the state Senate in MinneapolisâÄô District 59 against then-Majority Leader Larry Pogemiller, was among the speakers.
âÄúYou are clueless,âÄù he said to the City Council. âÄúYou are managing the city the way the Wild West settlers managed the buffalo.âÄù

âÄúBuffalo Bill and his posse have to knock it off and let us survive,âÄù Hickethier said, gesturing at Rybak and the Council.