MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey delivered his 2019 proposed budget address Wednesday, saying he hopes his plan will “lay a strong foundation for a stronger city.”
Frey said the “foundation” rests on three pillars: historic investment in affordable housing, improving police-community relations and a commitment to good, transparent governance.
The budget plan allows for $1.6 billion for all city funds, which is a 9.8 percent increase from former Mayor Betsy Hodges’ 2018 adopted budget of $1.4 billion. Frey’s proposal addresses significant future financial and operating challenges, which he says is important to consider when making comparisons between the two years.
The first focus of Frey’s recommended budget plan is on affordable housing. The plan includes over $40 million from one-time and ongoing resources allocated to help create home ownership opportunities, stable rent prices and support services for aging Minneapolis residents, among others.
“As our city’s population continues to grow at a rate not seen since the early 20th century, Minneapolis is confronting an unprecedented affordable housing crisis,” Frey said. “While neighborhoods across Minneapolis continue to feel the benefits of a growing economy, too many people in our city are not included in that growth.”
Frey said now is the time to take advantage of the market, and drive it toward a people-centered housing approach.
The budget also includes investment in community-police relations by allocating funding for health-and-wellness training programs for officers, while continuing to outfit all officers with body cameras. Additionally, funding will go toward victims of drug addiction, domestic violence, youth and group violence and human trafficking to ensure they have the resources and outreach opportunities they need.
Frey’s proposal states $25,000 will go toward creating an office of violence prevention and intervention.
“The creation of this new office would serve to make sure the right hand is talking to the left, that the departments doing this work are coordinating with one another, and, it would serve as a formal acknowledgement of our shared belief that violence is a public health epidemic,” Frey said.
In an effort to grow the economy through inclusion, Frey says the city will make investments to create a municipal city identification card to help residents like immigrants, youth, seniors who no longer drive, transgender residents and the homeless who otherwise have trouble obtaining an ID.
“The city ID card will grant our residents benefits, opportunities and hopefully some piece of mind,” Frey said.
Frey’s plan also allocates funds to businesses in communities of color to help drive more inclusive economic growth.
“We must ensure that communities of color are not being used as scapegoats and data points, but are supported as owners, leaders and partners in prosperity,” Frey said.
As for the newly enacted minimum wage hike, Frey says the city will invest in investigators to make sure there is no wage theft by business owners, while also proposing investments to provide training and support resources to those who seek well-paying jobs for themselves and their families.
Mayor Frey’s plan also includes funding for repairing infrastructure and updates to technology relating to accessing the city’s services.
“These investments in our city today can serve as guarantees for a strong foundation,” Frey said. “That foundation rests on community-led and-community-backed agreements; a commitment to good governance, with an effective, open and transparent way of governing; and data driven investments in Minneapolis. That solid foundation also rests on working together to make this the best possible budget for our city.”