Proposed Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board 2021 tax levy balances tax relief and unprecedented loss of revenues

At its Sept. 2 meeting, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board (MPRB) Commissioners passed a resolution requesting the Board of Estimate and Taxation (BET) to set the 2021 maximum property tax levy for the MPRB at $70,326,000, a 1.18% or $820,000 increase from the 2020 certified tax levy.

The 1.18% increase will fund $820,000 to operate The Commons and provides the final year of an eight-year plan to respond to emerald ash borer infestation and urban tree canopy loss due to storms. In 2020, the Minnesota Court of Appeals ruled that the City of Minneapolis could not operate and manage The Commons, which it had done after acquiring the property in 2014 and opening the park in 2016. Funds to operate The Commons in 2020 were transferred to the MPRB by the City of Minneapolis. This transfer will not be made beginning in 2021, making the 1.18% property tax increase effectively a 0% increase to MPRB operations.

“This year the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board experienced unexpected expenses and millions in lost revenue due to the pandemic, like countless local governments across the country,” said Al Bangoura, Superintendent of the MPRB. “We anticipate reductions in services across all departments in 2021 while upholding our mission to provide beautiful places and dynamic programs for all people to enjoy, particularly our youth.”

If approved by the BET, the Superintendent will present a balanced 2021 budget based on a 1.18 percent property tax levy increase. This will require budget reductions of up to $6.2 million in the general fund due to the provided property tax relief, reduced Local Government Aid and pandemic impacts.

“During a challenging year in the City the Park Board has weathered many storms,” said Jono Cowgill, President of the MPRB. “While a lower levy will mean reductions in park services, we recognize that the taxpayers are not in a position to shoulder a substantial increase. I am happy to support the levy increase which builds in support for expanded park maintenance needs.”

As required by State Law, the BET sets the maximum tax levy for the City of Minneapolis, Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Municipal Building Commission and the Public Housing Authority on an annual basis. The BET is scheduled to set these maximum property tax levies on Sept. 23, 2020.

The Superintendent will present the recommended 2021 budget on Oct. 21, 2020. The Board will consider the Superintendent’s budget and adopt the 2021 tax levy and 2021 budget on Dec. 9, 2020.