Minneapolis Park Board’s 2017 Budget Focuses on Fiscal Responsibility, Service Delivery, and Implementation of the 20 Year Neighborhood Park Plan

On Wednesday, December 7, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) adopted its 2017 budget for the park system, which serves more than 22 million visits annually. The budget focuses on enhanced maintenance, rehabilitation and capital investments for neighborhood parks, continued sound fiscal management, providing responsive service delivery to meet the changing demographics and needs of the community, and, for the first time, implementing a racial equity tool throughout the budget process.

“The 2017 budget fully integrates the 20 Year Neighborhood Park Plan into the MPRB budget and is the first MPRB annual budget to use a racial equity lens for budget decisions,” explained MPRB Superintendent Jayne Miller. “The 2017 budget continues to reflect the MPRB’s commitment to strategic long-term planning by focusing on sustainable funding, supporting ongoing operations, addressing threats to the urban tree canopy, continuing refinement and implementation of operating efficiencies and targeted service delivery, and aligning employment and asset investments to meet changing demographic needs across the city.”

As the demographics of Minneapolis have changed and continue to change, the Park Board is working hard to be responsive to the changing needs of the city’s current community and plan for the needs of future residents through more diverse service delivery, modifications to the system of parks and park assets to meet the diverse needs of residents, the updating of policies that demonstrate the respect of varied cultural values and needs, and the expanded employment of a diverse workforce at all levels of the organization.

Miller added, “I am committed to this continued diversification of our organization and the expansion of diverse offerings throughout our city.  I am extremely proud of our park system, the hard work of our employees, and the services we provide to our community and visitors from across the world.”

The MPRB’s 2017 Budget totals $76.6 million for the general operating fund, which reflects a 10 percent property tax increase. The budget also includes $3.2 million for the special revenue fund, $10.7 million for the enterprise operating fund and $20.8 for capital project funding. In 2017, of every dollar Minneapolis residents pay for property taxes, eight cents will go to the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

In May 2016, the MPRB was named the number one park system in the nation for the fourth year in a row and earned another ‘five park bench’ rating on The Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore® index. Also in May, the MPRB was recognized as a 2016 Finalist, for cities with populations over 400,000, for the National Recreation and Park Association Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Park and Recreation Management.

“It is because of the vision and commitment of those who have been here before us, and everyone who is committed to the Minneapolis park system today, that we receive these prestigious honors and recognitions and continue to be at the forefront of new innovation” said Miller. “It’s a wonderful tribute to all the dedication and hard work over our 133 year history. These honors and recognitions are also reflective of the organization’s focused work in recent years to meet the changing needs of our city.”

The 2017 budget and all related documents are available for viewing at www.minneapolisparks.org/budget or by calling 612-230-6400. Additionally, the Park Board has created an online interactive parks project map to help Minneapolis residents help track neighborhood and regional park capital improvement projects across the city. The map is available at www.minneapolisparks.org/about_us/budget__financial/capital_improvement_program.

20 Year Neighborhood Park Plan

The 20 Year Neighborhood Park Plan, or NPP20, is the culmination of the Closing the Gap: Investing in our Neighborhood Park initiative, which began in 2014.

“NPP20 is significant and historic in two ways: it provides long-term funding for Minneapolis neighborhood parks as well as explicit terms for all other funding between the MPRB and City of Minneapolis, and it adopts the Criteria Based System Ordinance that directs the spending of capital and rehabilitation funds for neighborhood parks based on racial and economic equity,” explained Miller.

The 20 Year Neighborhood Park Plan Concurrent Ordinances were passed by Mayor Betsy Hodges and Minneapolis City Council and MPRB Board of Commissioners on April 29 and May 18, 2016, respectively.  The Concurrent Ordinances ensure an additional $11 million, with scheduled inflationary increases, in annual funding for 20 years to the MPRB to revitalize Minneapolis’ renowned network of neighborhood parks.  The MPRB Board of Commissioners additionally adopted the Criteria Based System for Capital and Rehabilitation Neighborhood Park Project Scheduling Ordinance on July 6, 2016 which establishes an objective, criteria-based system to ensure that racial and economic equity criteria are utilized in determining the distribution of funds to neighborhood parks.

Challenges Facing Park Board

According to Miller, although the NPP20 funding helps address aging infrastructure and assets in neighborhood parks, there continues to be financial and service challenges facing the Minneapolis Park Board.

“The MPRB remains committed to establishing long-term financial sustainability in operations, rehabilitation, and capital infrastructure for all operations, said Miller. “While great strides have been made through organizational performance initiatives becoming an integral part of the MPRB way of doing business and the passing of the 20 Year Neighborhood Park Plan, funding gaps still exist in our regional park system, recreation service delivery, internal services funds and enterprise fund operations. The MPRB is committed to addressing the ongoing financial challenges to ensure quality facilities and quality delivery of park and recreation services to Minneapolis residents and park users. This budget supports, as best as is possible within the resources available, the continuation of this important work.”

Key financial challenges include inadequate funding for regional park maintenance and for delivery of quality recreation services, particularly youth services. Additionally, the 2016 State Legislative session resulted in flat LGA, O&M and Lottery proceed levels, and the loss of an anticipated $3.4 million for capital projects in regional parks.

Other key financial challenges include state minimum wage increases, Affordable Care Act impacts, rising health care costs, inflationary increases, especially in construction costs, and the potential impact of a City of Minneapolis $15 minimum wage ordinance.

The 2017 budget also addresses capital investment needs due to increased demands for service and increased park usage, especially in regional parks, and operations facilities investment needs. The 2017 proposed budget also continues to address Emerald ash borer infestations and tree losses due to storms.

2017 Initiatives and Changes

Key initiatives and changes for 2017, by department, include:

  • Asset Management –NPP20 funding for staffing and operating costs for enhanced neighborhood park maintenance; five additional park operations manager positions that align with service areas; additional funding for contractual services and supplies for regional park operations; and increase in overall overtime budget
  • Athletic Programs & Aquatics –part-time staffing for athletic and aquatic program marketing through donation revenue; lifeguard wage adjustments; and end-of-season tournament entry fee
  • Communications and Marketing – funding to assist in the launch of a new intranet website
  • Community Outreach – continue focus on racial equity, diversity and inclusion work, including oversight and implementation of Racial Equity Action Plan; and savings from operating efficiencies
  • Customer Service – minor revenue increases based on trends
  • Environmental Management –full operation of Carl W. Kroening Interpretative Center at North Mississippi Regional Park; increased staffing of Aquatic Invasive Special program coordination; and revenue increases for services to other agencies
  • Finance – minor operating efficiency reductions
  • Forestry – increase in revenue and expenses for City of Minneapolis’ portion of the Forestry Preservation position; revenue reduction for elimination of wood processing site
  • Golf – projections presume reopening of Meadowbrook golf course to full operational capacity and 2nd 9 at Hiawatha golf course; full funding of golf staff to department budget due to Winter Recreation changes; new Point of Sale system; expense reductions due to historical average; golf fee increases and revenue increases; and revenue reductions at Wirth due to construction
  • Park Police –new position for youth violence prevention and funding for acquisition and implementation of Body-worn cameras among Park Police sworn/patrol staff
  • Planning – addition of an Urban Scholar position; increased support for community engagement by funding food, childcare and translation services for community engagement meetings
  • Recreation Centers & Programs – Ambassador staffing at the Trailhead
  • Superintendent – Funding for Greater & Greener 2017, City Park Alliance International Urban Park Conference
  • Youth Development – expand Street Reach program with additional part-time Street Reach staff; and increased revenue for Recreation Plus program

In 2017, there are no fee increases for the vast majority of activities, permits and programs. There are market-rate increases for select activities and services.