Frogtown isn’t the only St. Paul neighborhood that would be hit hard by Mayor Chris Coleman’s new funding strategy for the city’s 17 neighborhood-based district councils.
The District 10 Como Community Council’s funding is set to remain stagnant over the next three years—at $51,873—but the city didn’t take into account that in January 2014 the district will increase by nearly 4,000 residents when South Como residents leave District 6 and become part of District 10.
District 10’s population will grow by one-third, from nearly 11,900 to nearly 15,800.
“The magnitude of the population shift caused by this change is unprecedented and results in an inequitable funding outcome where Como Park residents will experience a 25 percent decrease in per-resident funding,” said District 10 board chair John Knox.
“We want the transition with the additional citizens being added to our district in 2014 to go as smoothly as possible,” he said. But the lack of increase in funding to account for the population shift “seems to be a pretty big road block.”
Shortly after the mayor’s budget was released in July, Knox sent a letter to Coleman, Ward 4 council member Russ Stark and Ward 5 member Amy Brendmoen, asking the mayor to adjust the district’s funding over three years.
At press time the mayor’s office was trying to schedule a meeting with Knox.
According to Knox’s letter, the mayor’s budget will reduce District 10 per-resident funding by 25 percent, from $4.35 to $3.29 “in one fell swoop.” That decrease will force the district to make significant cuts to its programs, Knox said.
The mayor’s proposal phases in funding cuts for district councils facing a population loss over a three-year period. Knox is asking that the mayor place District 10 in a similar category by adjusting funding over three years to maintain equity among district councils. This would allow District 10 to seek alternative funding sources and adjust to the new funding, the letter said.
Knox’s letter asks the mayor to fund the district at $3.90 per resident ($61,429) in 2014. That amount represents the average per-resident funding rate of all district councils, the letter said, and then $3.70 per resident ($58,390) in 2015 and $3.55 per resident ($55,917) in 2016.
“It still ends up with a perperson decrease, but it’s just a softer way of doing it,” Knox said. “It allows us a way to more fully accept the transition with the new people.”
In January, the City Council approved a recommendation that the residents of South Como be allowed to secede from District 6 to District 10 effective January 2014.
“We are going to try and work with the City Council and mayor’s office to change this [funding] proposal,” said Ted Blank, district administrator. If that doesn’t happen, the district will have to look at cuts that include “relocating the office to a smaller setting and staff cuts. Trying to provide 25 percent less per head is really, really tough,” Blank said.
St. Anthony Park District 12’s funding will remain at $51,873.