Minneapolis Park Officials Seek Proposed Tax Levy That Focuses on Youth Investment

At its Sept. 4 meeting, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) commissioners passed a resolution seeking a 2020 property tax levy that invests in the city’s youth.

“The Park Board and the City of Minneapolis have a responsibility to invest in, and serve, youth in ways that make a substantial difference today and for generations to come,” said Al Bangoura, Superintendent for MPRB. “We have the solutions and places to enrich the lives of Minneapolis youth, and we will continue to work with the mayor and city council members towards making that happen.”

In response to funding levels not keeping pace with current needs, the MPRB is proposing $1.3 million for expanded youth services, including increasing youth employment and developing four ideation tech labs in recreation centers. The funds, if approved by the Board of Estimate and Taxation, would come from the city levy and would impact the property tax owed on a median-valued house of $266,000 approximately an additional $6 annually.

Currently, the MPRB receives seven cents on every dollar in property tax paid by Minneapolis homeowners. The additional funding being sought would result in an 8.06 percent increase in Park Board property taxes, which is a 1.52 percent increase on total City of Minneapolis property taxes, or approximately $24, which includes the $6 for expanded youth services, per homeowner of a median-valued house.

“Superintendent Bangoura has outlined a bold vision for a Minneapolis youth agenda. This means investing in programs that help young people grow into healthy, happy, productive adults. I hope in the days ahead, the Mayor, City Council, Board of Estimate and Taxation and the Park Board will take actions that reflect our shared commitment to the youth of the city,” said Brad Bourn, President of the Park Board of Commissioners.

According to Bangoura, the MPRB is strategically positioned to offer high-quality youth employment programs which provide unique and lifelong skill-building opportunities.  Additional funding will allow the MPRB to expand critical employment programs in the City of Minneapolis, including Teen Teamworks, Conservation Corps crews, Urban Scholars, Youth Design Team and new trades apprenticeships.

“For us, youth employment is not just about the job,” explained Bangoura. “We provide work readiness training, career pathway exploration, and a foundation for education and career planning for successful futures.”

Bangoura also envisions ideation spaces that will teach digital literacy, engage youth with a variety of technologies, and support youth in developing the high demand skills and abilities wanted by employers.

“With appropriate resources, the MPRB can provide youth exposure to professions they did not know existed, spark vocational interests, and help set forth a clear and potentially a more cost-effective pathway for attaining career goals,” explained Bangoura.

The MPRB’s commitment to youth services is supported by knowledge of community needs gained through extensive community engagement and prior citywide survey results indicating high public support for youth services. Staff shared the Closing the Gap: Investing in Youth report at the Sept. 4 Board meeting. The report states that almost 20 percent of the Minneapolis population is children and youth under age 18, and that almost 30 percent of those youth are experiencing poverty. The report shows how current resources fall short in meeting service levels by approximately $2 million annually for youth.