City Hall update // Mayor Rybak nixes proposed health fee on restaurants

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November 19, 2012 // UPDATED 5:48 pm - December 27, 2012
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter

The city of Minneapolis won’t be creating a new “health risk impact fee” on restaurants as Mayor R.T. Rybak had proposed in August, according to an email his staff has sent to City Council members.

Rybak had proposed the fee as a way to raise between $728,000 and $907,000 annually in order to hire six more health inspectors. Rybak argued to the Star Tribune that health inspectors were overburdened as the city’s restaurant base has grown, citing data showing a one to 377 ratio of inspectors to facilities. 

Rybak’s policy director, Peter Wagenius, wrote to Council members that key city staff members received new revenue projections for the city’s Regulatory Services Department. 

“Based on those revised — and positive — projections, the Finance Department believes the needed additional inspectors can be hired with projected revenues and without the Food & Health Safety Fee,” Wagenius wrote in the email. 

According to the Star Tribune, the fee would have ranged from $350 to $450 a year for high-risk restaurants. It would have been less for smaller establishments, like coffee shops and food trucks. 

In September, the city’s Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee voted down Rybak’s proposal for a 3 percent increase in business licensing fees.  

Dolan retires, Harteau next in line as police chief

Minneapolis Police Chief Tim Dolan retired on Nov. 2 after six years as the city’s top cop and nearly 30 years after becoming an officer. 

“I came onto this job looking for a challenge, and I never dreamed I would have a job that was so rewarding and so challenging,” Dolan told the City Council on his last day on the job. 

Dolan is credited with leading the Police Department during a sharp drop in violent crime. In 2006 — the year he became chief — incidents of violent crime reached 6,480. In 2011, that number fell to 3,811. 

Janeé Harteau is in line to replace Dolan. Harteau served as assistant chief under Dolan and has 25 years experience with the MPD. 

Mayor R.T. Rybak officially nominated her for the job on Oct. 24. A public hearing on her appointment is scheduled for Nov. 28 before the city’s public safety committee. Rybak is calling a special City Council meeting for Nov. 30 to confirm her appointment, according to Rybak’s spokesman. 

Harteau’s first month will be on an interim basis and will be followed by a three-year appointment beginning in January. 

Harteau would be the city’s first female police chief. 

City Council: Orchestra, musicians should keep negotiating 

The Minneapolis City Council is urging for continued negotiations between musicians and the Minnesota Orchestra in hopes of bringing symphony back to downtown. 

Musicians from the Minnesota Orchestra have been locked out since Oct. 1, after they rejected a contract offer that would have cut minimum salaries by 32 percent. Management has offered average annual salaries of $89,000. 

Concerts have been cancelled through Dec. 23. 

The resolution to urge more negotiations passed unanimously at a Nov. 2 City Council meeting. Council members expressed concern about musicians who are going unpaid and without health insurance. 

“The City of Minneapolis discourages ‘lockout’ as a means to resolve the existing labor dispute and requests that both sides work to find options for rebuilding trust and engaging in bargaining in order to ensure the continued vitality, reputation, and economic benefit of the Minnesota Orchestra as a pre-eminent cultural institution of our City and State,” the resolution states. 

The Minnesota Orchestra, according to the city’s resolution, is running a $6 million annual deficit. It also says that the Orchestra is important for the reputation and competitiveness of many organizations and institutions. 

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.