Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter both unveiled their 2022 budget proposals this week, both emphasizing issues including affordable housing and public safety.
Both budgets mark spending increases from their proposals last fall, before COVID-19 vaccines were available and while more restrictions were in place for businesses and the public. Increased tax levies will partially support these increases in spending in both cities.
The budgets also use funds from the American Rescue Plan, passed by Congress last spring, to support spending priorities.
“We will emerge from the pandemic on the other end, well-prepared to reignite our city and continue the hard work of transformation and change,” Frey said in a statement.
“Minneapolis has demonstrated with unflinching clarity that we are ready to not just think, but to act bigger than we ever have. No matter the challenge, we’ve stayed committed to our core values and to our community.”
Frey's Minneapolis Budget
Budget amount: $1.6 billion.
Tax levy increase: 5.45%
Highlights of Frey’s budget:
- $28 million toward affordable housing from ARPA funds.
- $15 million toward the city’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
- $2.6 million in new funding for youth recreation programming.
- Increased police spending.
- Increase in incentives and support for businesses to invest in renewable energy or energy efficiency.
Frey’s budget also increases spending for the Minneapolis Police Department, with a recommendation of almost $192 million for the department, compared to the $164 million the city council agreed on last year, when budget cuts were required in every department due to COVID-19.
The mayor wants to push police funding to above pre-pandemic levels after a year of enhanced crime, but in doing so risks a backlash given the calls for policing change in the city following the murder of George Floyd by ex-MPD officer Derek Chauvin.
The recommendation received criticism from Sheila Nezhad and Kate Knuth, both challengers in this year's mayoral race.
The proposal also comes as Minneapolis residents are set to vote on a charter amendment this November that would establish a new Department of Public Safety to replace MPD.
Other public safety measures in Frey’s budget include $7.8 million in ongoing funding to the Office of Violence Prevention, along with additional funding through the ARPA.
Carter's St. Paul Budget
Budget amount: $713 million.
Tax levy increase: 6.9%.
Highlights from Carter’s budget:
- $40 million from the ARPA to support homeless residents and boost affordable housing
- $40 million for career readiness programs
- $3.6 million for vaccine and public health community engagement
Carter’s $713 million budget is supported by a 6.9% tax levy increase, which means an increase of $10.58 per month for a home of median value, according to his office.
St. Paul did not raise its property tax levy last year, citing economic challenges caused by COVID-19.
“Last year, with the pandemic raging and no timeline on when a vaccine would be ready, we prepared a defensive budget centered around three zeros… zero property taxes, zero staff layoffs and zero use of our emergency reserves,” Carter said in his budget address.
“Today is profoundly different than when I stood to propose a budget last year.”
Carter cited decreasing unemployment rates, Ramsey County vaccination rates and decreasing numbers of residents experiencing homelessness.
Carter also said funds from the ARPA would go toward filling vacant positions in the city's police department.
Both the Minneapolis and St. Paul city councils will begin reviewing the mayors’ proposed budgets, with final negotiations coming later this year.