Council committee sets ball rolling on super agency

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August 20, 2002 // UPDATED 1:29 pm - April 30, 2007
By: Kevin Featherly
Kevin Featherly

The first cog has turned in a plan to overhaul the city's development bureaucracy and create a super agency -- integrating the Regulatory Services and Planning departments, parts of Public Works, the Minneapolis Community Development Association (MCDA) and the Neighborhood Revitalization Program (NRP).

A City Council committee adopted a resolution that sets the process in motion. The wheel, however, did not move without some difficulty.

The City Council's Community Development committee voted 5-1 Aug. 26 to approve the resolution, formally initiating the process set forth in July's McKinsey Report.

The resolution calls for a new office of Community Planning and Economic Development (CPED) to oversee four newly created sub-agencies, while recommending a shift in the city's focus to housing and economic development.

Deputy Mayor David Fey called the committee's approval "a milestone in the process after eight months of work." The plan does not aim to "downsize the city," but instead would streamline the city's development process, which he said could result in overall savings.

Councilmember Robert Lilligren (8th Ward), who voted against the resolution, worried that it does not address the current budget crunch.

"As a matter of fact," he said, "I see something that would create another department with four sub-departments, which is starting to sound like spending more administrative dollars, not less."

The full City Council will likely consider the resolution Sept. 13.

Mayor R.T. Rybak told committee members that the McKinsey-inspired resolution represents the "ideas of the collective minds of Minneapolis." McKinsey formulated its recommendations over several months, after interviewing some 300 citizens and collecting input online from about 1,000 more.

In addition to setting priorities and outlining a new development bureaucracy, the resolution calls on the mayor to move ahead with appointing a CPED director and asks department heads to begin refining "key performances measures" in their agencies.

Some of the proposals could require changes in the city charter or approval of the state Legislature.

Councilmember Lisa Goodman (7th Ward) said the plan still has unanswered questions, but she agreed with the mayor that it is time to get the ball rolling.

"I understand that there's resistance to creating a new system," she said. "Maybe it won't be better. But we don't know that until we try it. Not trying really is giving up before you've entered the game."