Park Board pushing for hike in 2008 budget

Parks notebook originally published in the The Southwest Journal on November 5, 2007

By Mary O’Regan

The Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) is disappointed with their proposed 2008 budget, according to a letter from Park Board President Jon Olson to Mayor R.T. Rybak. This fall, the board submitted their request for a 10.8 percent tax levy increase. The city responded by giving the board a 4 percent increase, which is about the same as last year.

MPRB General Manager Don Siggelkow says that the organization would be fine with a 4 percent increase, if they weren’t also facing a 2 percent decrease in Local Government Aid (LGA) and a 15 percent increase in health insurance costs. Factoring those in, the total increase will only end up being 2.5 percent.

The MPRB received $39,205,673 in property tax money in 2007. The rest of their budget consisted of $9,888,000 in LGA, $2,741,424 in rents, fines and fees, $982,105 in grants, and $495,000 in inter-department transfers.

In 2008, they can expect to get $40,942,461 in property taxes and $9,704,890 in LGA, with the rest of the funding sources staying about the same.

“The bottom line is that, given all that, our budget doesn’t fit within those constraints,” Siggelkow explained. “We’ll have to adjust it, but what that means is we’re going to cut services and employees.”

Residents can also expect fee increases,   he said. “When people come and ask why we’re doing this, we’re going to have to say, ‘Talk to the mayor.'”

Park Board commissioners will receive copies of the superintendent’s budget recommendations on Nov. 16 and hold a discussion about the recommendations at their Nov. 28 meeting.