City Council passes budget cutting property taxes 1 percent

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December 12, 2013 // UPDATED 2:50 pm - December 13, 2013
By: Sarah McKenzie
Sarah McKenzie
City leaders say it's the first tax cut in 30 years

The City Council unanimously voted to adopt the 2014 city budget Wednesday night — a budget that includes a 1 percent cut to the property tax levy.

It's the first time city leaders have cut property taxes in 30 years.

The roughly $1.3 billion budget, proposed by Mayor R.T. Rybak in August, earned praise from City Council members at the final hearing. Cam Gordon (Ward 2) called it the smoothest process and most "joyful" budget he's voted on in his eight years on the Council.

About 70 percent of residents will see a property tax cut or no tax increase, according to city officials.

"It is enormously gratifying for me to deliver a property tax cut in my final budget," Rybak said. "I am also pleased that with this budget, the city will start homegrowing the workforce of tomorrow, one that will reflect the people of Minneapolis."

Some of the highlights of the 2014 budget include:
— Funding to hire new police officers and firefighters to prepare for impending retirements in the departments;
— More money for investments in roads, transit, bike infrastructure and improvements for pedestrians, including $4 million for early engineering work for the proposed Nicollet streetcar line; and
— $400,000 for a staged rollout of body cameras for police officers, a tool designed to make officers more accountable.

City leaders point to three factors that made the tax cut possible: state leaders provided the city with an additional $12 million in Local Government Aid (LGA), Rybak and the Council established a property tax relief fund with money saved in 2012; and sales and hospitality taxes are growing at a faster pace because of improved economic conditions.