Minneapolis, Minnesota

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Minneapolis is the largest city in the U.S. state of Minnesota, the 48th largest city in the United States, and the county seat of Hennepin County.

Its name is attributed to the city's first schoolteacher, who combined mni, the Dakota (Sioux language) word for water, and polis, the Greek word for city.[1]

Minneapolis lies on both banks of the Mississippi River, just north of the river's confluence with the Minnesota River, and adjoins Saint Paul, the state's capital. Known as the Twin Cities, Minneapolis-Saint Paul is the 16th-largest metropolitan area in the U.S., with 3.5 million residents. The 2010 Census had the city's population as 382,578.[2]

City Council

The City of Minneapolis is divided into thirteen wards. The City Council is made up of one Council Member from each ward. Council Members are elected to four-year terms.[3] Ward boundaries are adjusted after each federal census so that there is no more than a five percent difference in population among the wards. The Council elects its own officers. The Council President chairs its meetings and acts as mayor if the Mayor is out of town or incapacitated.[4]

Ward Name First Elected Next Election
1 Kevin Reich 2009 2017
2 Cam Gordon 2005 2017
3 Jacob Frey 2013 2017
4 Barbara Johnson (President) 1997 2017
5 Blong Yang 2013 2017
6 Abdi Warsame 2013 2017
7 Lisa Goodman 1997 2017
8 Elizabeth Glidden 2005 2017
9 Alondro Cano 2001 2017
10 Lisa Bender 2013 2017
11 John Quincy 2009 2017
12 Andrew Johnson 2013 2017
13 Linea Palmisano 2013 2017

The City Council governs Minneapolis through its legislative, administrative, and financial power over many City functions. The Council levies taxes, enacts ordinances and resolutions, licenses businesses, and exercises budgetary and policy control over City departments.[4]

The Council adopts ordinances that provide for the government and order of the City. Ordinances serve a variety of purposes, including licensing, regulating public and private activities, controlling the uses of property, preventing crime, and generally ensuring public health and welfare. The Council adopts resolutions to express policy or to direct certain administrative actions. The Council also passes on assessments, submits annual tax levy statements and has charge of City elections.[4]

The Council functions with committees. Departments report to the Council through an assigned committee. Committee recommendations are forwarded to the full Council for its consideration. Council actions then go to the Mayor for approval or veto.[4]

Initiatives

Current City contracted initiatives:[5]

Wireless Minneapolis

  • The City of Minneapolis signed a 10-year contract with US Internet of Minnetonka to provide Minneapolis with cutting-edge broadband technology. US Internet will fund, build and manage a wireless network covering all 59 square miles of Minneapolis, providing residents, businesses and visitors with wireless broadband access anywhere in the City. The network will allow the City to deliver services more efficiently and effectively than ever before. Wireless Minneapolis also includes benefits to the community that go beyond what any other city in the country has negotiated.
  • The BIS department is leading this initiative and will be actively engaged in partnership with City departments to implement this technology in the delivery of City services.

Downtown Safe Zone

  • The Downtown Safe Zone initiative is working to increase downtown safety by partnering the Police Department with corporations, private security companies, County Sheriff's deputies and Metro Transit Police. With the support of Target Corporation, 29 Safe Zone cameras covering 30 blocks have been installed. Through Safe Zone the Minneapolis Police Department has expanded its uniformed presence and improved response times. As a result, the most serious crimes downtown have declined 21% overall, assaults have declined 24%, and robberies have declined 50% downtown. The Downtown Safe Zone technology is administered by the BIS Department.

ShotSpotter

  • ShotSpotter is just one way Minneapolis is using new technology to make neighborhoods safer. The City’s budget provides for $2 million in public safety technology funding over the next two years. BIS is a partner in bringing new technology to public safety.
  • In addition to providing 911 dispatchers and police with better tools to respond to shots, it is expected the technology will eventually deter would-be criminals from committing gun violence.

Mayor

R.T. Rybak was first elected Mayor of Minneapolis in 2001 and was re-elected in 2005 and 2009 to serve additional terms.[6]

Duties of the Mayor:[7]

  • Appoints representatives to a variety of agencies and commissions
  • Nominates department head candidates for Executive Committee and Council approval
  • Presides over Executive Committee meetings
  • Proposes policy direction in the annual State of the City address
  • Proposes the annual operating and capital budgets
  • Reviews and approves or vetoes all Council actions
  • Reviews and approves or vetoes all Park Board actions
  • Signs all City contracts

In 2002, Rybak developed the City of Lakes Loppet, a 35-kilometer urban cross-country ski race through Theodore Wirth Park and across Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles and Lake Calhoun which ends on the streets of the Uptown Minneapolis. Rybak, a skier himself, has participated in races.

Rybak has made many public appearances at rallies and protests. In April 2004 he spoke to a rally of striking Metro Transit workers at the Hennepin County Government Center plaza.[8]

In August 2007, after the collapse of the I-35W Mississippi River bridge, Rybak asked Governor Tim Pawlenty and Minnesota state officials to implement its replacement, ensuring that the new bridge would be capable of handling mass transit.[9]

In June 2008, Rybak was elected Vice President for Communications of the National Conference of Democratic Mayors.[10]

Election History

In 2001 Rybak (57,739 votes for 64.69%) defeated incumbent Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton (30,896 votes for 34.61%).[11]

In his 2005 re-election campaign he defeated challenger (and fellow Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party member) Peter McLaughlin by nearly 25 percentage points,[12] 61.47% to 36.72% (43,198 votes for Rybak and 25,807 votes for McLaughlin[13]).

On November 3, 2009, Rybak was elected to a third term as mayor, winning 73.6% of the votes.[14]

Budget

The accounts of the City are organized into funds. A fund is a group of related accounts used to control money that has been earmarked for specific activities or objectives. By keeping revenue in its appropriate funds, the City is able to obey laws that require certain money to be spent on specific uses. About 71 percent of the City’s revenue is dedicated for a specific use. That means the City may not raise water bills to pay for police services, for example. Of the City’s $1.36 billion 2011 Adopted Budget, most of the big spending decisions occur within the City’s $392 million General Fund.[15]

The fund where the City has the most discretion is the General Fund. The two major sources of funding for the General Fund are local property taxes and Local Government Aid from the State. These two sources make up 63% of the General Fund budget of $392.3 million. The General Fund is about 29 percent of the citywide budget.[15]

Expenses as a percent of the budget, by use of fund:[15]

Use of Fund % of Budget
Public Works 23%
Transfers 11%
Debt Service 10%
Police 10%
Capital improvement 9%
Park Board 7%
CPED 6%
City Coordinator 5%
Fire 4%
Convention Center 4%
Regulatory 4%
Other 4%
Attorney 1%
Health & Family Support 1%
Other boards 1%
Library transfer <1%
Youth coordinating board <1%

Revenue

Under the 2011 Adopted Budget, a Minneapolis home with an estimated value of $196,650 will pay about $1,309 in property taxes to the City in the year 2011:[15]

Use Tax on a typical
home
Police $276.32
Fire $113.92
Public Works $68.06
Other City departments $145.07
Closed pension funds and
pension management plan
$185.61
Capital and debt service $94.80
Miscellaneous
(includes contingency)
$141.74
Library referendum debt service $43.22
Park $219.56
Independent boards $20.70
Total $1,309.00

Lobbying

Main article: Minnesota government sector lobbying

The Intergovernmental Relations (IGR) Department has a Director and two Government Relations Representatives. The director has many varied responsibilities: to be the federal liaison, to manage the IGR team and to be the lead lobbyist on state issues as necessary. In the federal capacity, the director lobbies the federal legislative process to maximize the advantages to the City resulting from federal programs. Also, the director communicates regularly with federal elected officials and local elected officials, exchanging information to keep them up-to-date with issues that have an impact on the City. Additionally, the director provides information about federal bills, hearings, regulations, reports, studies, agencies, national organizations, and Congressional and Cabinet members.[16]

The Government Relations Representatives report to the Director and serve as liaisons of the City to the state government. They also analyze and research legislative proposals, propose policy alternatives to the IGR Committee of the City Council, keep elected officials and department heads informed of legislative activity, summarize legislative enactments affecting the City, and identify future issues on which the City should take a position.[16]

The Government Relations team also works to enhance the city's partnership and communications with metropolitan and local units of government. Metropolitan governments include the Metro Council and the regional operating commissions. Local units of government include other cities and Hennepin County. This function also involves participation in such organizations as the Association of Metropolitan Municipalities and the League of Minnesota Cities.[16]

IGR is under the City Coordinator's Office. IGR manages the Office of Grants and Special Projects which provides leadership and direction to the City and its departments in the areas of grant seeking, writing and management.[16]

Current and past City of Minneapolis Legislative Agendas are posted, and contain additional policies the City wishes to pursue through lobbying.[17]

Minneapolis has spent the following on government sector lobbying from 2005-2009. This includes both contracts with lobbyists and membership in government sector lobbying associations:

Year Amount
2009 $450,552.00
2008 $401,551.00
2007 $416,021.00
2006 $419,863.00
2005 $424,689

Data obtained from Minnesota State Auditor Lobbying Reports

Public Records

There is no information on how to request public records consistent with the Minnesota Data Practices Act, which are a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Minnesota.

Public Safety

The Police and Fire Departments make up 13.9 percent ($189 million) of the City’s budget. The City’s 2011 Adopted Budget funds 862 sworn police in five different precincts and 396 firefighters at 19 stations.[15]

Website evaluation

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Permits, zoning
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Transparency grading process

The good

  • Current and past budgets posted.[18]
  • City Council meetings[19] and minutes[20] posted.
  • There is information on permits and zoning.[21]
  • Current and past audits are posted.[18]
  • The Procurement page[22] lists currents bids, past awards, and information on the bidding process. Additionally, other current RFPs[23], ongoing contracted initiatives[24], and other contract information posted under the Business Information Services page[5]
  • Discloses information about government sector lobbying initiatives and membership to government sector lobbying associations
  • Information local use taxes[25] and property taxes posted[26], as well as links to state sales tax information[27]

The bad

  • City Council member[3] and Mayor[28] contacts posted, but are only telephone numbers to their offices and do not provide personal e-mail or phone numbers.
  • There is a 'City Services Directory' with contact information for administrative officials and departments, but no e-mail or direct phone numbers.[29]
  • There is no information on how to request public records consistent with the Minnesota Data Practices Act

External links

References