Proposed 2020 Minneapolis Park Board Budget Focuses on Youth Services, Financial Sustainability, Environmental Protection, and Engaging Communities’ Power

Superintendent Al Bangoura’s Recommended 2020 Budget for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) focuses on four priorities adopted by the Board of Commissioners last year and organizational performance goals adopted by the Board in April 2019 to support those priorities. The four priorities are: invest in youth; be financially sustainable; protect the environment; and engage communities’ power. The recommended budget maintains most current service levels, continues the use of racial equity tools throughout the budget process, and includes initiatives to address environmental concerns and critical funding gaps for youth programs and jobs.

“We have a responsibility to invest in, and serve, the youth of Minneapolis with quality, innovative programs, regardless of the youth’s ability to pay for services,” explained Superintendent Bangoura. “This budget begins to address the $2 million funding gap identified in the Closing the Gap: Youth Investment report shared earlier this fall with commissioners and city leaders. Because the Board of Estimate and Taxation did not approve additional funding for the Board’s youth and environmental priorities, this budget includes funding a portion of those priorities through service reductions within every division and careful, thoughtful increases to fees for a variety of services.”

The Closing the Gap: Youth Investment report shows the MPRB’s investment in youth has increased slightly but not enough to address prior periods of decline in service levels. The MPRB has been held to current service level funding, without additional funding, to address youth programming and while general park service demands grew as the city’s population increased.  The report identifies several city and MPRB reports that outline the needs and desires for Minneapolis residents and leaders to support youth and youth programming: 2013 City of Minneapolis Blueprint for Violence; 2015 MPRB Closing the Gap; 2016 Memorandum of Understanding between MPRB and Minneapolis Public Schools; and 2018 MPRB RecQuest. In addition, the 2020 City Youth Coordinating Board Master Plan, which is working through approvals, echoes the call to better serve youth.

“We have ten years of community input and plans, but without additional funding these plans aren’t implemented and annually more than 80,000 Minneapolis youth go without the needed services that have been identified,” explained Bangoura. “We need to accept the good analysis that has already been done and get to work, or we will miss the current generation.”

Bangoura’s recommended budget includes almost $300,000 for additional youth employment opportunities within the park system, almost $200,000 for programming and $600,000 for capital to implement two ideation spaces converting outdated computer labs and providing staff and equipment to expand digital skills for youth, slightly more than $100,000 for free afterschool programming at four sites across the city, almost $25,000 for the formation of a new youth council, and almost $400,000 for environmental initiatives to reduce the MPRB’s carbon footprint, reduce energy and manage water resources.

The recommended budget includes a proposed 5.7 percent property tax levy increase that includes 5.8 percent increase for the General Fund annual operating increase, and 3.9 percent increase for the Tree Preservation and Reforestation Levy to address Emerald Ash Borer infestation and tree loss due to storms. The Superintendent’s 2020 Recommended Budget proposes utilizing the maximum 5.7 percent tax levies authorized by the Board and Estimate and Taxation. Of the total property tax paid by Minneapolis homeowners, approximately seven cents of every dollar will go to the MPRB. The proposed 5.7 percent property tax increase will result in an estimated annual increase of $17 for the owner of a median-value $266,000 house.

The Superintendent’s Recommended 2020 Budget totals $126.1 million, including $89.2 million for the general operating fund, $3.2 million for the special revenue fund, $13.2 million for the enterprise operating fund and $20.5 for capital project funding.

The 2020 recommended budget includes multiple initiatives to engage communities’ power, including completion of Parks For All (the MPRB’s 2021 Comprehensive Plan); implementation of a Language Access Plan; development of a police officer career pathway for non-traditional, diverse candidates; and implementation of a system-wide Ambassador Program supported by volunteers. Initiatives to protect the environment include installation of electric vehicle plug-in infrastructure; implementation of energy management software; an analyst position focused on energy, sustainability and efficiency; continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions using carbon footprint analysis; scoping efforts for shoreline management plan; development of an urban forest management plan; and implementation of formal criteria for evaluating new equipment. The focus on financial sustainability includes the 20 Year Neighborhood Park Program funding for infrastructure and balancing the need to maintain existing facilities and programs with the importance of providing quality programs and services requested by the community.

“I am extremely proud of our park system, the drive and dedication of our employees, and the incredible range of services we provide to our community,” said Bangoura. “We are committed to assessing and realigning our services as needed, being efficient and effective in our work, and meeting the changing needs of all residents.”

The proposed budget and related documents are available for viewing at or by calling 612-230-6400. The public may comment on the proposed budget during the following times:

  • Nov. 6, Public Comment Session – Administration and Finance Committee meeting, MPRB Headquarters, 2117 West River Road, Minneapolis. The Committee meeting will follow the Board’s regular meeting, which begins at 5 pm.
  • Nov. 20, Public Comment Session – Regular Board meeting, MPRB Headquarters, 2117 West River Road, Minneapolis, at 5 pm.
  • Dec. 4, Administration & Finance Committee Approval of 2020 Budget – MPRB Headquarters, 2117 West River Road, Minneapolis. Comments may be made during 5:30 pm regularly scheduled Open Time session.
  • Dec. 11, Public Hearing and Board Approval of 2020 Budget – City of Minneapolis public hearing on 2020 tax levy and 2020 Budget, City Hall, Council Chambers Room 317, 350 South 5th Street, Minneapolis, at 6:05 pm.

“For more than a century, the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board has been nationally recognized as a top urban park system and as attributing to the livability of the city,” said Bangoura. “We are committed to addressing the challenges we face, positively impacting people’s lives and delivering meaningful services.”

Financial Challenges:

In addition to closing the youth investment gap, key challenges include unknown future operations of The Commons, greater resources to implement many of the Pesticide Advisory Committee’s recommendations, and increased expectations for snow removal, mowing, and weed harvesting.

Other key financial challenges include the impact of a City of Minneapolis $15 minimum wage ordinance, inflationary increases especially in construction costs, internal services rate increases for stabilization of the mobile equipment fleet and information technology services, and the continued work to stabilize the Enterprise Fund.

The proposed 2020 budget also addresses the need for improved operations facilities, capital investment needs in regional parks that continue to outpace available funding in the aging park system, Emerald ash borer infestations, and tree losses due to storms.

Initiatives and changes for 2020 include:

  • Asset Management – addition of three mobile equipment operators to improve service levels for snow removal, mowing and weed harvesting; addition of painter to maintain service levels due to system expansion; addition of management analyst position focused on energy, sustainability, and efficiency; hiring of 13 youth for three Teen Teamworks Power Crews, Urban Scholar, and field data collection assignments; one-time funds for acquisition of energy management software; reductions in services with closing of Lupient miniature golf course and Lyndale School wading pool; service level savings from converting Victory Park wading pool to splash pad; reductions of expenditures due to efficiencies
  • Athletic Programs, Aquatics & Ice Arenas – increases in adult sports and field rental fees based on market rates; increase in adult sports officials per game rate of pay; reduction in lifeguard hours by changing policy from 85 degrees to 90 degrees for extended hours at beaches due to heat; new fee for last minute ice time reservations; conversion of two part-time ice arena customer service positions to an ice arena administrative support position; current service level adjustments to fund emergency medical technicians at 12U and 14U youth football games, youth officials per game rate of pay, and a city-wide swim team
  • Communications and Marketing – elimination of summer intern position; current service level adjustments to support Language Access Plan implementation
  • Community Outreach – reduction in part-time staffing at city-wide MPRB events; decrease in Music and Movies program; elimination of vacant part-time office support position; increase in Urban Scholar administrative fees; current service level adjustments to support Government Alliance on Race and Equity membership and movie licensing fees
  • Customer Service – increases for canoe rack storage rates and Wirth Pavilion weekend rental fees; new fees for filming and photo permits, storage locker lease and revenue share, and low impact ceremonies; transfer of portion of Facility Coordinator position to Enterprise Fund; increase in parking revenue due to expansion of ParkMobile app to surface lots, rate adjustments at Mill Ruins, and adding pay parking on West Bde Maka Ska Parkway and the Calhoun Executive Center lot; permit revenue increases from adjustment to artist booth fee and new fees for promotional, commercial, food and beverage booths; revenue reduction for Bde Maka Ska concession building; current service level adjustments to provide permit administration and buoy tender equipment maintenance and replacement
  • Design and Project Management – eliminates project manager position and engineering project manager position and associated project charge revenue; increase to planning chargeback rate model based on trends; one-time funds to perform assessment of MPRB historic and iconic homes
  • Deputy Superintendent’s Office – one-time funds for phase two of MPRB ordinance review and racial equity training; current service level adjustments for continuation of racial equity work
  • Environmental Management – addition of water resources lead position; hiring of up to 24 youth for green team and garden crews; increase in revenue received from stormwater services agreement with City; uses Met Council funds, not MPRB funds, for funding one of two existing Conservation Corps crews; one-time funds for scoping and methodology for shoreline lake management plans
  • Finance – eliminates financial and performance analyst position; increases enterprise fund overhead charges; adds Urban Scholar position; current service level adjustments to provide contracted financial analysis support
  • Forestry – increase in revenue for the wood processing site lease agreement and a minor current service level reduction in rental fees
  • Golf – targeted golf fee increases; elimination of golf director position; reassignment of golf maintenance staff to other departments during winter months
  • Human Resources – one-time funds to procure employee onboarding software; current service level adjustments for annual ongoing HR software costs
  • Park Police – addition of enhanced cadet program to bolster law enforcement candidates, especially candidates of color and women; current service level increase of park patrol agents to address system expansion and increased usership
  • Recreation Centers and Programs – addition of two ideation spaces to teach digital literacy and engage youth with a variety of technologies; free afterschool programming for up to 80 youth at four sites; increase in program and rental revenue at recreation centers due to increased enrollment and use; reduction in outdoor supervision at locations ranked the lowest on the recreation equity matrix; elimination of the Freedom School program
  • Strategic Planning – completion of the next comprehensive plan utilizing existing resources
  • Youth Development – addition of youth advisory council to engage staff and the community to advance programs, activities, outreach and partnerships; increase in RecPlus fees based on market rates and higher enrollment

In 2020, there are no fee increases for many activities, permits, and programs. There are market-rate fee increases for select activities and services, and fees have been established for new activities and services being launched in 2020.

The proposed budget and related documents are available for viewing at or by calling 612-230-6400.