Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board leaders want to raise the property tax levy beyond the increase supported by Mayor Jacob Frey, saying they need an additional $1.5 million for youth programs.
In his budget address last month, Frey recommended increasing the Park Board's property tax levy by 5.7% to $69.5 million. Property taxes make up about 75% of the Park Board's general fund.
Frey's recommendation is $1.24 million greater than what was projected for the Park Board in the 2019 budget, according to budget documents. But parks leaders are asking for more, saying the recommended increase would go only toward keeping current service levels.
Park Board Superintendent Al Bangoura and other park officials made a pitch last week to the Board of Estimate and Taxation, which sets the city's maximum property tax levy. Most of the additional $1.5 million, Bangoura said, would fund youth programming in parks and recreation centers, going toward technology labs, community gardening, teen employment and more.
"I want to say thank you for the recommendation, but we're asking for more. We need more," Commissioner Londel French told the board. "I think the kids in our city need more."
Frey, who sits on the Board of Estimate and Taxation along with Park Board President Brad Bourn, said he is already "funding more than we ever have before" through property taxes.
"I love that they're advocating for youth and recreation, and that is something the Park and Recreation Board can and should be doing," he said. "I don't have the ability to determine where the money goes, though. I just allocate it."
Frey vetoed the Park Board's request earlier this month, but it's the Board of Estimate and Taxation that has the final word on the maximum property tax levy. Park Board commissioners will revisit the request at their meeting Wednesday.
If the Park Board levy increases by 5.7%, annual property taxes for a median value home of $266,000 would go up by about $17, according to Park Board spokeswoman Robin Smothers. If it increases by 8% — the amount requested by the Park Board — taxes would go up by about $24, she said.
The Park Board has worked to increase the number of youth activities in parks under Bangoura, who is in his first year as superintendent. It made a similar push to increase funding for youth programming during last year's budget negotiations.
Frey's proposed 2020 budget also includes about $11 million toward neighborhood park improvements, part of a 20-year funding agreement authored by then-Mayor Betsy Hodges in 2016.