Mayor Betsy Hodges proposed a 2018 budget on Tuesday that’s focused on affordable housing and combating climate change, and includes a sprinkling of funding for public safety, the arts and voter outreach.
Standing at a podium alongside the full City Council at noon, Hodges spoke for 45 minutes, and laid out her priorities in the $1.4 billion Minneapolis budget. She proposed raising the levy — the total amount of property tax the city collects — by 5.5 percent, or $17.3 million.
Hodges and all the City Council members are in the midst of a re-election campaign, and, as usual, the budget won’t be finalized by the City Council until after the election in December.
Calling climate change “the single greatest threat to our city and our planet,” Hodges said, “it is up to cities like ours to lead both the fight against climate change and the work to adapt to it.” She proposed spending $6 million on clean energy programs; her budget would help pay for those initiatives by raising utility franchise fees by half a percent, which would cost the typical household about 57 cents per month.
After reviewing the results of a Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation, the Scott County attorney’s office has declined to file criminal charges against St. Paul City Council member Dai Thao, who is also a mayoral candidate.
St. Paul police had asked the BCA to investigate allegations against the council member involving a failed bribery solicitation.
“The mere request for a campaign donation, without some evidence of a proposed quid pro quo, is not illegal,” states a Tuesday letter from the Scott County attorney’s office to the BCA.
Reached by phone Tuesday evening, Thao said he was still preparing public comments in response to the case and had no immediate comment.
Gov. Mark Dayton put some parameters Tuesday around Minnesota’s upcoming bid for the new Amazon corporate headquarters, saying the state will be “restrained” when it comes to tax and financial incentives.
The Democratic governor stressed that Minnesota, with a vibrant economy and heralded labor force, has an attractive case to make for the e-commerce retailer’s second North American headquarters. But Dayton said any proposal must benefit the state more than Amazon.
Plus, Dayton said, the state needs to be mindful about being unfair to existing corporations with Minnesota headquarters. Target and Best Buy are at the top of the list given that they compete directly with Amazon in the retailing space.
“I think they and at least some of their 32,000 employees would look properly with askance at our taking some of their tax dollars to offer special incentives they don’t receive to lure some major competitor to their doorstep,” Dayton said.