Mpls. hears plan to reduce property tax increaseby Brandt Williams, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The Minneapolis City Council's budget committee reviewed Tuesday a plan to to ease next year's proposed property tax hike.
The plan would cut $6.1 million from Mayor R.T. Rybak's 2011 budget proposal, which would reduce the property tax levy increase from the 6.5 percent proposed by the mayor down to 4.7 percent.
The biggest savings would come from several short term measures. Under the plan the city would forgo spending $1.1 million in capital improvements for Target Center, reduce the Park Board's levy by $2 million, and eliminate the public housing authority's levy for the next two years -- a $1.4 million cut.
The plan also proposes some cost savings designed to keep property taxes under control over the next few years. The plan would freeze employee salaries for two years and end the old Neighborhood Revitalization Program. However, the plan doesn't specify how much money this move would add to city coffers.
Council member Betsy Hodges, who helped craft the proposal, says the plan is a response to taxpayer complaints.
"We heard what people said," says Hodges. "We heard that people preferred cuts in services to an increase in property taxes and we're doing our best to lower the proposed levy. But, if we don't do it responsibly, we're going to have an even bigger problem next year."
The council's budget committee is expected to debate the plan and take a vote Wednesday. Next Monday the council will listen to more public testimony about the budget before they vote on the amended budget.