Future of neighborhood funding still uncertain


The City of Minneapolis’ Neighborhood Revitalization Program work group presented a report Thursday to the city council’s Committee of the Whole that will affect future allocation of dollars to neighborhood groups across the metro.

Bob Cooper, Senior NRP/Citizen Participation Specialist, presented the report, titled Framework for the Future. The report recommended the creation of two new funds for neighborhood groups, the Neighborhood Investment Fund and the Community Innovation Fund.

“The capacity to organize at the neighborhood level is a basic city service,” Cooper said. “These allocations provide base support for neighborhoods.”

According to the report, 90 percent of all administrative funding would go to the Neighborhood Investment Fund, to be controlled by neighborhoods. The remaining 10 percent would go to the Community Innovation Fund, to be controlled by the city.

Neighborhoods would be able to allocate money for more localized issues, and the city would set priorities and award micro-grants to neighborhood groups who agreed to address them.

Council Member Cam Gordon, Ward 2, expressed concern about the allocation process, saying the formula should be simple and clear.

The administrative cost of the new funds had been mentioned in previous reports as being between $2 and $3 million. The final report had no language regarding cost.

Council member Betsy Hodges, Ward 13, expressed dismay that a specific dollar amount wasn’t included in the NRP’s work.

Bob Miller, the director of the NRP, also objected to the proposal.

“I object very strongly to the document produced,” Miller said. “It’s vague [and] it’s arbitrary.”

Miller and the rest of the work group had researched spending history over the last six years and came up with a prospective amount of $2.9 million needed for funding. According to Cooper, $2.9 million would cover the base administrative costs of neighborhood organizations, but not special concerns and expenditures.

Mayor Rybak was less concerned with the missing dollar amount.

“A dollar figure is one thing, an outcome is another,” Rybak said. “First and foremost I think we really want an outcome.”