St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman has proposed a sweeping transformation of service delivery in his first budget proposal. Anchored by a commitment to fiscal responsibility and public safety, Coleman announced his budget to a full house last week at the Paul and Sheila Wellstone Center for Community Building in St. Paul.
“This budget protects the values we hold dear in Saint Paul. We have worked for more than six months to put together a financial package that enhances public safety, improves service delivery in the parks and regulatory services departments, and brings our library system into the 21st century. This budget is the first step toward our goal of structural balance for the City by 2010,” Coleman said.
At the forefront of Coleman’s budget initiatives is a proposal to hire five additional officers to the St. Paul Police Department. This will bring the city’s complement to its highest level in history.
Coleman made this proposal just six days after the announcement that St. Paul will receive $1.5 million dollars less in Local Government Aid than was projected in the spring. The adjusted budget number added approximately 10 percent to the city’s budget gap, bringing the total to nearly $16.5 million dollars. Many cities across Minnesota have felt the pain of LGA cuts in recent years, including St. Paul, which has lost more than $72 million dollars in aid since 2003, including $16.2 million dollars just this year.
“St. Paul has played by the rules. Time and time again, we have made cuts to keep our property tax levy to a minimum. We are proud to have closed this budget gap today, but the need for meaningful property tax reform is very clear, and that help has to come from the state level. It is time for state leaders to keep their word to Minnesotans and restore aid to Minnesota cities,” Coleman said.