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Minneapolis budget: Property tax hiked 5.5 percent to pay for more cops

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Property taxes will rise in Minneapolis in 2017, with Mayor Betsy Hodges proposing a 5.5 percent hike to the levy that will help pay to put more police officers on the streets.

Mayor Betsy Hodges said 70 percent of the new investment she put forward on Wednesday is for public safety, which includes an extra $1.3 million for the Minneapolis Police Department to hire 15 more full-time police officers.

Three of these officers will be part of a new pilot project that will see them work alongside two full-time mental health professionals in what Hodges calls a "police/mental-health co-responder model."

It comes amid a turbulent time for city police following tensions with the city's black community and Hodges admitted police conduct hasn't always been of the highest standard, but at the same time recognizes the importance of backing the changes ongoing in the department.

"I acknowledge that our policing has sometimes done harm and sown mistrust, particularly in communities of color," she said in a news release, before adding that Minneapolis is "leading the way" in the conversation about police-community relations.

"No other city in America is more resources on the line, changing more policy and transforming itself more fundamentally than we are," she said. "Yes, there's is more to do. We are sticking with it, for the good and the humanity of all of us. There is no going back."

Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau had this to say:

Taxes to rise to pay for it

To help pay for the investment in public safety, the levy taken from city homeowners via property tax will rise 5.5 percent, higher than the 4.9 percent baseline to maintain services at current levels, and much higher than the 3.4 percent tax hike for 2016.

The reason it's more than expected is because the 2017 state budget still hasn't been agreed by legislators, meaning an anticipated $1.7 million in Local Government Aid for Minneapolis has not yet been passed.

If and when that passes during a special session, the property tax levy hike will be reduced to 4.9 percent, Hodges says.

That doesn't necessarily mean homeowners will see a 5.5 percent hike in their tax bills next year, some of the rise may be diluted by new residents in the city who start paying tax.

The Southwest Journal reports Minneapolis' population has grown 8 percent in the last five years, and now stands at 412,571 residents.

The Minneapolis budget is roughly $1.2 billion, which includes $2.7 million in spending cuts, the newspaper notes.

On Tuesday, Mayor Chris Coleman announced a 4 percent rise in the property tax levy, but said this would see tax bills go down because the city's tax base had grown by 8 percent in 2016.

Here are some of the other key points from Mayor Hodges' budget:

  • Five more traffic control agents to work in downtown.
  • An extra $1.6 million for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
  • Money to put an extra animal control officer on the street.
  • An extra auditor at the City Auditor's office.
  • $500,000 for public-safety strategies in two locations with high levels of youth violence: West Broadway between Lyndale and Girard, and Little Earth.
  • Hire five more full-time firefighters.

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