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St. Paul budget: Mayor to spend $140K to hire more people of color

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A $140,000 investment so the City of St. Paul can employ more people of color is among the proposals revealed by Mayor Chris Coleman on Tuesday, in a budget aimed at reducing racial inequality in the city.

Coleman reiterated his aim for 23 percent of the city's workforce to be people of color by the end of next year, and has boosted the city's human resources department by $140,000 "to focus on recruiting more candidates of color."

In his 11th budget address, he said the city also plans to add 3,000 jobs over the next three years, and will be focusing on job creation specifically in areas with low income residents and people of color "in an effort to close the racial unemployment gap."

"According to a Pew Research study released earlier this year, between 2000 and 2014, our middle class actually shrunk – with some in our community tumbling out of the middle class," he said.

"When we layer this widening income gap over the intractable, pernicious racial disparities that plague the Twin Cities, we understand that the capital city’s response to strengthening the middle class must be to continue to put racial equity at the center of our work."

It's one of multiple initiatives Coleman revealed that will be funded by a 4 percent increase in the property tax levy in 2017.

However, Coleman points out, property tax bills overall will go down next year, because the city's tax base has grown by almost 8 percent.

Here are some key points from the city's budget:

  • The general fund budget is at $266 million, while the overall budget is at $562 million. Coleman says the city's been able to close a $11 million budget gap, while still maintaining city services.
  • More funding for city police, including five new officers, which bring the department up to an "historic" 620 sworn officers, compared to 576 when Coleman took office.
  • $150,000 in permanent, yearly funding for the Community Ambassadors project, so they can continue working with police to "divert youth from risky behaviors" and connect them with jobs and programs.
  • $1.7 million to combat emerald ash borer, predicted to infect 35,000 trees in the next 10 years.
  • $500,000 to redesign the Rondo Community Library "to better serve children and teenagers."
  • Creation of a job opportunity fund using $2 million made from the sale of the Penfield luxury apartments.
  • Another year of funding, at $750,000, for the city's commercial vitality zones "aimed at ensuring neighborhood commercial areas are effectively utilized."

You can read more on the budget here.

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