Wearing two watches and carrying two umbrellas outside the Hennepin County Government Center at a news conference today, mayoral candidate Cam Winton once again drew on props to illustrate a point that if elected he would streamline duplicative city and county services to save money for taxpayers.
“It is unnecessary to have two umbrellas. It’s unnecessary to have two watches and it’s unnecessary for residents of Minneapolis to have two 911 systems, two HR systems, two IT systems and two accounting systems,” Winton said.
About 1,000 employees working for the city and county appear to perform duplicative functions, Winton said.
If elected, Winton, a wind power attorney from the Fulton neighborhood running as an independent, pledges to lead a group of stakeholders within the City of Minneapolis and Hennepin County to explore ways to reduce duplication and create joint-services agreements.
Winton stressed that he would not advocate for any layoffs as part of the plan. Instead, positions vacated by retiring workers in impacted departments would not be filled.
After some upfront costs to implement the streamlining, Winton estimates that the joint-service agreements could save taxpayers an estimated $10 –$15 million annually.
Hennepin County has a roughly $1.78 billion budget and employees 7,500 full-time workers, and the City of Minneapolis has a $1.2 billion budget and about 3,700 employees, according to documents cited by Winton.
Winton pointed to other cities that have worked to streamline functions, such as Richfield, which recently merged its 911 services with Edina to save money, and St. Paul and Ramsey County's collaboration on health services.
He also said the merger of the City of Minneapolis libraries with the Hennepin County system has been a success.
(Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the city with which Richfield merged its 911 services.)