Rybak proposes 2008 city budget

by Anna Ewart

Everybody has to live on a budget, and for the city of Minneapolis, the budget is around $1 billion.

Last week Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak released his plans for the 2008 city budget.

According to a statement released by Rybak, the budget will focus on addressing public safety. The City Council should approve it sometime in December.

Matt Laible, a spokesman for the city, said proposed budgets are usually not changed drastically by the council.

According to Rybak’s statement, the budget proposes $200.1 million be put toward public safety programs. Police funding would also increase 6.5 percent in 2008.

The budget would allow the city to add 18 more police officers and four more 911 emergency operators, according to Rybak’s statement. It would also expand restorative justice and youth violence-prevention programs.

Robert Skomra, commander of the 2nd Precinct, said the precinct around the University has 63 officers, but he would welcome more to fill shifts. He said crime in the 2nd Precinct is down 5 percent so far this year.

The budget would also increase public works funding by 4.1 percent. Public works related to transportation maintenance and repair would receive about $32 million, a slight increase from this year.

Rybak said the city and the state need to invest more in basic infrastructure. Only 29 percent of the bridges in Minneapolis are owned by city government.

Ward 2 City Councilman Cam Gordon said public works is an area that has been suffering recently. He said he is glad the mayor is doing something about that.

“I appreciate that he put some extra money in there to look at our bridges,” he said. “Keeping up with street and road repair has been challenging lately.”

Rybak also proposed a one-time increase in the convention center’s funding. Nearly $5 million will be added to that funding because of the Republican National Convention, which will be held there next year.

Some city services would receive less money next year, according to the proposed budget, in order to pay off the city’s debt and plan communities.

Some of next year’s expenses would be funded by an increase in property taxes, according to the proposed budget. Property taxes would generate 7.5 percent more revenue for the city than they did this year.

Other sources of revenue will decrease in 2008. Aid from the federal government has been reduced by about 16 percent.

Minneapolis has also lost $35 million in state aid, according to the statement from Mayor Rybak.

The city’s Laible said the decrease in state aid is due to 2003 cuts in local government aid.

The $35 million loss is consistent with the amount Minneapolis has received from the state for the past several years.