In his final budget address, Rybak offers 'unprecedented' tax cut

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In his final budget address to the city council Thursday, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak offered a rarity in his term and in Minneapolis city politics: A proposal to cut the city's tax levy by one percent.

As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports, the move, if approved by the council, would be the first time anyone could recall such a proposal in recent memory - the paper calls it "unprecedented."

He told city council members that increased state aid, savings from a rainy day fund and some city relief from the Legislature as part of the Viking stadium deal are responsible for the cut, according to MinnPost.com.

Rybak's proposal comes after a decade of tax increases that became a bane of some of his detractors as he tried to steer the city out of a financial mess.

By comparison, the levy increase was 1.7 percent in 2013, the Strib reports. Property taxes now account for about 45 percent of the city’s general fund revenues. That’s up from 29 percent in 2003.

That 1-percent property-tax cut is 3.8 percent below the growth in the cost of maintaining current city services, before making any new investments, according to this press release from the city of Minneapolis.

Public safety was also on the mayor's mind, as KSTP-TV reports that Rybak proposed funding for a new 30-person cadet class in the police department and three new 15-person classes in the fire department, as well as 20 new community service officers.

He also announced funding for police training, expanded early-warning systems and community engagement.

As for the record number of contenders hoping to replace him, Rybak name-checked council member Betsy Hodges and Don Samuels, both of whom have announced mayoral bids. Full text of the speech can be found here.

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