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Minneapolis Park Board wants to ask taxpayers for at least $3.5 million more in 2019

September 13, 2018

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board will seek a property tax increase of up to $3.5 million in 2019 with a portion of it going directly to youth programming.

On Wednesday evening, the board asked the city’s Board of Estimate and Taxation to increase its tax levy by 5.7 percent. That could cost the owner of a $249,000 house, close to the city’s median value, about $15.50 annually, said the Julie Wiseman, the Park Board’s finance director.

The Board of Estimate and Taxation, which sets maximum levies in Minneapolis, will make a decision on Sept. 26.

“We think it’s a good chance because we are very much in line with the mayor’s recommended budget,” interim Park Board superintendent Mary Merrill said Tuesday.

The new minimum wage of $15 and the reclassification of jobs account for part of the 5.3 percent that will maintain the status quo, Wiseman said.

The remainder will be for youth services: $100,000 will go toward expanding current youth programming at the parks and $150,000 toward supporting full-service community schools.

Also known as wraparound schools, they’re intended to be go-to places for students, families and communities to find support. In this case, the Park Board and Minneapolis Public Schools could team up for after-school programming.

At Wednesday’s meeting, a handful of people spoke in favor of the proposed increase levy because of the wraparound concept.

“It’s the beginning to our reinvestment in the youth,” Merrill said. “The same way we invest in the infrastructure, we should invest in people.”

Property taxes cover 74 percent of the Park Board’s general fund.

“We are much more heavily reliant on property taxes than the city of Minneapolis,” Wiseman said. “It’s about providing the public use of our assets ... a lot of things we offer are free and open to the public.”

Covering about 6,800 acres of parkland, Minneapolis’ parks system has 49 recreation centers, 118 playgrounds, 62 wading pools and 18 gardens. It employs 569 full-time employees with an annual budget of $112 million.

Karen Zamora • 612-673-4647

Twitter: @KarenAnelZamora

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