SW Journal: New city fees have Park, Library Boards crying foul

The Minneapolis Park and Library systems are in a financial tug of war with the city — and how it plays out will determine whether parks and libraries get hit with a new round of cuts.

In 2003, the city began charging the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board and the Minneapolis Library Board for a share of city management overhead — such as the Assessor’s Office, human resources, procurement, budgeting, technology and affirmative action efforts.

In 2003 and 2004, the city charged the Park Board $800,000 a year, roughly equivalent to the operating budgets for two recreation centers (or quadruple Mayor R.T. Rybak’s 2004 tree-planting initiative.)

The city charged the Library Board $300,000 a year, or approximately half the annual budget of Uptown’s Walker Library, 2880 Hennepin Ave. S.

To city leaders, it seemed only fair for the Park and Library Boards to share the costs of services that benefit them. Some independent Board officials say they feel the city is fixing its budget problems at their expense.