Minneapolis City Council budget amendments set some ‘unrealistic’ expectations of Office of Community Safety, commissioner says
Ahead of a final vote on the City of Minneapolis’ 2024 budget on Tuesday, recent amendments have set high expectations of a year-old city department.
Minneapolis Community Safety Commissioner Todd Barnette on Saturday said his office will “have to evaluate” whether it can implement all of the amendments directed at the Office of Community Safety in the latest version of the budget.
“There’s a lot of expectations being put on the Office of Community Safety in this budget,” City Council Vice President Linea Palmisano said during a Friday afternoon Budget Committee meeting, one of multiple meetings on Thursday and Friday.
$13.5 million worth of projects were designated to Barnette’s department over the course of 2024. That money came from a pool of $19 million that the Minnesota Legislature allocated to the city for public safety earlier this year.
Some of the amendments made by council members this week addressed ongoing work, like setting aside $4 million to eventually implement plans in development that would make the future 3rd Police Precinct into a comprehensive Community Safety Center.
Other amendments would require hiring new positions or an RFP process, including a couple of proposals for neighborhood-specific safety coordinators and one more manpower for Metro Transit safety.
“Some of these amendments, I think, will line up with what we’re trying to do with this ‘Safe and Thriving Communities’ Report as we bring that report to reality,” Barnette said on Saturday, adding, “But I can say that it’s not realistic that we’re going to get to all of those projects through conclusion in a year.”
“What I hope that people can understand is that I want us to get this right,” Barnette continued. “And I want it to be thoughtful and mindful about this comprehensive plan, and not go after what’s shiny and new.”
Budget Committee Chair Emily Koski, who called the amendments “historic investments” on Friday, responded on Saturday.
“We have another budget cycle at the end of next year, where we can continue to monitor and evaluate where we’re at,” she said.
Asked if that meant she’s “not too concerned” that all of the amendments are completely implemented by the end of 2024, Koski said, “I don’t know if ‘concern’ is the right word to use. I’m open. And I want to make sure that we’re starting these projects, some of them have already had a lot of discussions. “
If all the public safety amendments are approved on Tuesday, that would leave $5.5 million from the one-time state investment. That was set aside for future use.
Top of mind for Barnette would be using some of that money to raise salaries at the Minneapolis Police Department.
“We have to have a competitive salary for the police in order to draw law enforcement applicants to us,” he said.
There’s a “high likelihood” some money goes to bonuses or incentives, but not officer pay, Koski said, citing the one-time nature of the state investment.
The final vote on the budget is scheduled for Tuesday.