Minneapolis City Council set to finalize city budget

minneapolis mayor speaks at a podium
Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey speaks at a press conference during which Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced his retirement.
Tim Evans for MPR News

The Minneapolis City Council is scheduled to finalize the city’s $1.6 billion dollar budget Wednesday night with very few substantial changes from Mayor Jacob Frey’s budget proposal.

While some community members have criticized the proposal for increasing the size of the police department's budget, council members have not shifted significant amounts of money away from the Minneapolis Police Department coffers.

The 2022 budget represents a return to normal following some cuts last year and incorporates some federal pandemic assistance.

One of the more controversial aspects of Frey’s proposal was a $27 million dollar increase in the Minneapolis Police Department’s budget for 2022.

The mayor argued that the increase is needed to rebuild staffing in the department, which has lost several hundred officers since George Floyd was murdered by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in May 2020.

Forty-one speakers signed up at a public meeting last week to ask the council to reject the police department’s budget increase.

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Resident Eric Willis urged the council to reject what he described as an “egregious” increase in funding for the department.

"I do not advocate for an increase in the Minneapolis police budget. I feel like there are more community alternatives to policing,” Willis said, “and to community safety, other than increasing the budget to the Minneapolis Police Department.”

The city council isn’t making any substantial changes to the police department budget proposed by the mayor. But Council President Lisa Bender and Council Member Phillipe Cunningham are proposing an amendment to add $3.5 million dollars to the city’s violence prevention work.

Cunningham said at a budget markup meeting last week that the violence prevention work is filling the gaps in public safety not filled by the Minneapolis police.

“We find money in every nook and cranny to put more money into MPD despite the fact that we’re getting diminished amounts of services. We have to be able to take a step back and see that this sort of public safety strategies right now are not negotiable,” Cunningham said.

The changes include funding to hire violence interrupters, provide counseling to community members who have experienced trauma and to support programs targeting youth violence. Mayor Jacob Frey said he supports the violence prevention proposal, which will be funded by the next phase of federal American Rescue Plan funds.

The city is asking for a property tax increase of 5.45 percent. And forecasting that total revenue will be up by 6.7 percent in 2022.

The mayor’s budget proposal also includes $7.8 million in funding for the Office of Violence Prevention, funding for climate programs and $15 million dollars for the city’s affordable housing trust.

Minneapolis will also be looking for a successor to Chief Medaria Arradondo, who announced Monday that he would not accept another term. A day later, Mayor Frey named deputy chief Amelia Huffman to be the interim head of the department starting in January.

A new Minneapolis City Council will take their seats next month. The city is in the process of reorganizing its governmental structure after voters in November approved a plan to give the mayor more executive authority.