Minneapolis Park Board Adopts 2020 Budget

At their December 11 meeting, the Board of Commissioners adopted a 2020 Budget for the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) that focuses on four priorities: invest in youth; be financially sustainable; protect the environment; and engage communities’ power. The adopted budget maintains most current service levels and includes initiatives to address environmental concerns and critical funding gaps for youth programs and jobs.

“Our youth are our future. We need 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: Investing in Youth report shared earlier this fall with commissioners and city leaders. Because the City’s Board of Estimate and Taxation did not approve additional funding for the Park 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: Investing in Youth 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 while general park service demands grew as the city’s population increased.  The report identifies several City of Minneapolis 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; 2018 MPRB RecQuest; and the 2020 City Youth Coordinating Board Master Plan.

“I look forward to partnering with the Mayor and the Youth Coordinating Board to address the critical needs Minneapolis has for enhanced youth programs and youth violence prevention strategies,” explained Bangoura. “The Park Board is uniquely positioned to address the needs of today’s youth.”

2020 Budget Overview 

The  budget includes almost $400,000 for additional youth employment opportunities within the park system; close to $900,000 for programming and capital to implement three innovation spaces by expanding capacity at three recreation centers to provide new technology and digital skills for youth; $120,000 to pilot free Rec Plus child care at a Near North Minneapolis recreation center; almost $25,000 for the formation of a new youth council; and nearly $500,000 for environmental initiatives to reduce the MPRB’s carbon footprint, reduce energy and manage water resources.

The MPRB 2020 budget includes a proposed 5.7 percent property tax levy increase that includes a 5.8 percent increase for the General Fund annual operating increase, and a 3.9 percent increase for the Tree Preservation and Reforestation Levy to address Emerald Ash Borer infestation and tree loss due to storms. Of the total property tax paid by Minneapolis homeowners, approximately seven cents of every dollar will go to the MPRB. The 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 MPRB 2020 Budget totals $126.2 million, including $89.3 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 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 Action Plan; and implementation of a system-wide Ambassador Program augmented by volunteers. Initiatives to protect the environment include installation of electric vehicle plug-in infrastructure; an analyst position focused on energy, sustainability and efficiency; continued reduction of greenhouse gas emissions using carbon footprint analysis; 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, making decisions based on analytical data, being efficient and effective in our work, and meeting the changing needs of all residents.”

“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,” Bangoura added. “We are dedicated to addressing the challenges we face, positively impacting people’s lives and delivering meaningful services.”

Initiatives and Changes for 2020

The adopted MPRB 2020 Budget includes the following changes and new initiatives recommended by Superintendent Bangoura in October or proposed by commissioners in November and December. For full details, view 2020 budget documents at www.minneapolisparks.org/budget.

  • Asset Management – addition of three mobile equipment operators to improve service levels for snow removal, mowing and weed harvesting; addition of a painter position to maintain service levels due to system expansion; addition of a management analyst position focused on energy, sustainability, and efficiency; conversion of one seasonal gardener position to one full-time gardener position; hiring of 13 youth for Teen Teamworks Power Crews, Urban Scholar, and field data collection assignments; reduction in services with the closings of Lupient miniature golf course and Lyndale School wading pool; service level savings from converting the Victory Park wading pool to a splash pad; reductions of expenditures due to efficiencies
  • Athletic Programs, Aquatics & Ice Arenas – increases in adult sports and field rental fees; increases in adult and youth sports officials’ per-game rate of pay; increase in adult winter recreation fees; 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; addition of a city-wide swim team
  • Communications and Marketing – elimination of summer intern position; current service level adjustments to support Language Access Action 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 permit fees for events, parkway use, weddings, dog parks, and filming and photos; new fees for drone filming and photo permits to AMA-certified pilots for approved purposes, pending ordinance review and revision; new fees for storage locker lease and revenue share, and low-impact ceremonies; transfer of portion of Facility Coordinator position to Enterprise Fund; increases in parking fees and revenue due to expansion of ParkMobile app to surface lots and rate adjustments at Mill Ruins, as well as the addition of pay parking on West Bde Maka Ska Parkway, the Calhoun Executive Center lot and West River Parkway adjacent to Downtown and the North Loop; permit revenue increases from adjustment to artist booth fee and new fees for promotional, commercial, food and beverage booths; revenue reduction from Bde Maka Ska concession building; current service level adjustments to provide permit administration and buoy tender equipment maintenance and replacement
  • Design and Project Management – elimination of project manager position and engineering project manager position and associated project charge revenue; increase to planning chargeback rate model based on trends; increase construction and heavy equipment fees; increase construction permit fees
  • Deputy Superintendent’s Office – 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; use of Metropolitan Council funds, not MPRB funds, for one of two existing Conservation Corps crews
  • Finance – increases in enterprise fund overhead charges; addition of Urban Scholar position
  • Forestry – increase in revenue for the wood-processing site lease agreement and a minor current service level reduction in rental fees; conditional funding of Forestry Outreach Coordinator and Tree Preservation Coordinator positions using one-time funds
  • Golf – targeted golf fee increases; elimination of golf director position; reassignment of golf maintenance staff to other departments during winter months
  • Human Resources – current service level adjustments for annual ongoing software costs
  • Park Police – eliminate vacant police officer position; increase overtime by $30,000
  • Recreation Centers and Programs – addition of three innovation spaces to teach digital literacy and engage youth with a variety of technologies; create and pilot free Rec Plus program at a Near North Minneapolis site; 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; increase in Walt Dziedzic Innovation Fund to focus on underserved communities of color
  • Strategic Planning – completion of MPRB’s next comprehensive plan utilizing existing resources; Main Street pedestrian-only study/pilot project funded from Enterprise Fund transfer
  • Superintendent’s Office – conduct a third-party assessment of the philanthropic and government grant landscape to determine the financial sustainability of including a full-time development coordinator in the 2021 budget
  • Youth Development – increase employment for an additional 120 youth, including 13 for Asset Management and up to 24 for Environmental Management as referenced above; addition of Youth Advisory Council to engage staff and the community to advance programs, activities, outreach and partnerships

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