CITY HALL UPDATE // Taxi stands added to Uptown

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July 18, 2011
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter
As part of the solution to late-night noise in Uptown at bar close, the city of Minneapolis has added taxi stands outside four popular bars.

Only taxis will be allowed at the four areas the city has designated for the stands, and they will be reserved for cabs from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily.

Two spots are available in front of the Uptown Drink; five spots outside Bar Abilene; four spots in front of Stella’s Fish Café; and four spots in front of Cowboy Slim’s.

Police believe the taxi stands will alleviate traffic congestion because cabs won’t be circling the block.

City Council Member Meg Tuthill (10th Ward) has also supported the stands because they will help speed the flow of bar patrons out of Uptown after bar close.  

City can operate normally for a month during shutdown

The City of Minneapolis says it has enough cash reserves to keep the city in normal operation for 30 days while the state government is shut down.

If the shutdown lasts longer than that, the city will have to makes cuts to its budget because it relies on the state for state grants and federal grants that pass through state to fund some of its operations and programs.

That means that for the time being, city staff will not lose their jobs and private contractors will continue to receive payments.

The city has organized a task force of department heads who will formulate a plan on what to do after 30 days. That could include layoffs and stopping payments to contractors, according to a staff report.

Human Resources Director Pamela French told the City Council that four city departments will be affected most by the shutdown: Police, Public Works, Health and Family Services and Community Planning and Economic Development.

On June 27, the City Council, on a 12–0 vote, authorized legal action to attempt to require the state to continue to make Local Government Aid payments during the shutdown. According to the city, the state is scheduled to pay Minneapolis half of its annual LGA payment — about $44 million — on July 26, with the other half due on Dec. 30.

While the city was certified to receive $87.5 million in LGA in 2011, recent history has indicated it likely won’t get that much. Last year, for example, it received $64 million.

While council members were happy to hear the city had enough financial strength to maintain services for a month, some raised concerns about depleting reserves without any promise that they will be reimbursed.

“It is, from my point of view, a leap of faith,” said Council Member Diane Hofstede (3rd Ward). “We have solid financial base, but we’re at the risk of eroding that solid financial base without having any certainty that the Legislature will complete its activities.”

City Finance Director Kevin Carpenter said the city is able to control how much reserve money it spends during the shutdown.

“We control our own destiny as we make incremental decisions as we go,” he said. “The timing with which we replenish reserves or cash-flow contingencies that we use obviously depends on the magnitude of how far we spend those down, which depends on state actions or non-actions.”

The city’s partnership goes beyond funding. The city and state share information about courts, arrests warrants, litigation proceedings and databases.

At the July 1 meeting the City Council voted to take back authority over electrical inspection in Minneapolis. The City Council had turned that authority over to the state in 2005.

“The idea is to not disrupt construction projects in the city of Minneapolis,” said Dan McConnell, political director for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 292. He sent a letter to the council asking them to take back authority.  

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.