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Property tax levy to rise in Minneapolis – but Hodges says 2 in 3 will pay less

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Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges has proposed to increase the city's property tax levy by 3.4 percent next year – but says almost two-thirds of households would see their taxes fall.

Revealing a $10 million rise in the city's property tax levy from $287 million to $297 million to cope with inflationary costs, Hodges told the City Council during her 2016 Budget Address that the increase would have been 1 percent higher had it not been for prudent spending, savings and investment decisions made in recent years.

She said the 3.4 percent rise – a significant leap from the 2.1 percent increase last year – would be spread across Minneapolis' growing tax base, but said the majority of homes would still see their city tax bills drop.

The raise in the levy is higher than the one proposed by St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman during his budget address on Tuesday, of 1.9 percent.

"This proposed budget is focused on running this city well," she told the chamber, "it's a downpayment on future success."

Hodges made reference to Minneapolis' growing population that she says is predominantly coming from communities of color, adding that the bulk of city's future leaders and workforce will need to come from these communities if the city is going to be "the best it can be."

She has also pledged additional investment for the city auditor's office to help cope with the demand for property assessments as a result of the ongoing construction boom in the city.

Hodges' other proposals

  • $8.5 million to the city's affordable housing trust fund. This is lower than the $10.5 million committed in 2015, the Star Tribune reports, but another $1 million was pledged for affordable housing outside that fund to build three or more bedroom homes for the poorest families.
  • $10 million for the 10th Avenue Bridge which spans the river south of the I-35W bridge. The Southwest Journal notes bridge is in need of $40 million in repairs. The city's contribution will be added to the $30 million committed by the state.
  • The hiring of two new police officers for downtown Minneapolis, bringing the total number of city police to 862 officers. She said she would like to increase these numbers more, but at the moment the department is currently working to fill the existing 860 positions following a flurry of retirements.
  • The hiring of two more forensic scientists to help city police, and two analysts for the crime analysis unit, as well as employees to redact police body camera videos.
  • A further $750,000 in cuts to city departments, though no further details on where these will fall have been released.
  • $580,000 earmarked for public art.
  • A one-off $400,000 investment to replace 900 city street lights with LED lights, which is expected to save $113,000-a-year.

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